The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council chambers are poised to receive a $1.4 million makeover.
The meeting space is primarily used for the council’s twice-a-month meetings at City Hall. The space, in a building that dates back to the 1970s, has never been renovated.
“We want to update the chambers and make the people of East Baton Rouge proud,” city-parish spokesman Dennis McCain said.
The funds for the renovation are coming from franchise fees paid to the city-parish by cable companies.
The fees are intended to be used for public education, specifically broadcasting the Metro Council’s meetings. Since the broadcasting is so closely tied to the council’s physical chambers, the money also can be used for sprucing up the room, McCain said.
The renovations will be from top to bottom, including replaced furniture, a new dais and revamped paneling.
The video cameras and other equipment will get an upgrade, while the control room, now located in the chambers, will be moved to another floor. That will create more seating space inside the chambers, McCain said.
Metro Council meetings air on Government Access Channel Metro 21, a 24-hour cable channel that broadcasts to 150,000 parish households. The channel also airs Planning and Zoning Commission, School Board meetings and BREC board meetings, among other local programming. It airs on Cox Communications’ channel 21 and channel 99 for AT&T U-verse.
The renovation also will include some other technology updates. For example, officials envision the 12 Metro Council members to have built-in computers at their seats that allow them to digitally access council agendas and background documents.
The state Legislature, when in session, has “live” agendas that allow people online to follow along and see the action as it’s happening. The upgrades could provide the same technology for the Metro Council’s agendas, McCain said.
The council chambers are on the third floor of the downtown City Hall building, along with the Metro Council offices and the Mayor-President’s Office.
McCain said none of the cable company funds will be used for office renovations.
Construction is slated to take place between mid-September and March. In the meantime, Metro Council meetings will be held in room 905 in a former courtroom.