Some departments set for relocation in City Hall

Some departments set for relocation in City Hall

PAWTUCKET - City officials say they are moving and reshaping departments throughout Pawtucket City Hall to bring a new level of efficiency for residents and taxpayers who use them. Several moves are also being made in preparation for further consolidation of departments anticipated in the future.

In terms of service, the changes should be seamless for visitors, according to a news release from Mayor Don Grebien's office, with the most notable visible change being the Pawtucket Board of Canvassers relocating from a corner of the basement to a more openly public space on the third floor. As is the practice in many other communities, the Board of Canvassers will consolidate with the Office of the City Clerk, which has been located on the third floor for many years.

Purchasing and IT functions will be consolidated to one location as well, according to Grebien. Redesign work to facilitate the relocations is being done by city employees.

Grebien is taking heat from frequent critic Henry Kinch Jr. this week for moving the Board of Canvassers from the basement to the top floor. The former City Council president and Grebien's opponent in the 2010 race for mayor took to Twitter to question the move, saying the move will prove "unfair to the challenged."

What about access via the building's elevator?

"That thing breaks down more than my knees," posted Kinch. "Very shortsighted thinking." If history is a preview, Kinch noted, the move of the Board of Canvassers will prove a "very poor decision."

Dylan Zelazo, spokesman for Grebien, noted that all of City Hall, from the basement to the third floor, is accessible to the handicapped.

"If there's an issue with the elevator, there's an issue with the elevator," he said.

Zelazo said that voters with disabilities currently use a lift in the back of City Hall to get up to the current basement level for the Board of Canvassers. There could just as easily be a problem with that lift as there could be with the elevator, said Zelazo.

"What we're doing, I believe, should improve the usability of City Hall," he said, adding that the third floor area is "pretty conducive" to voting-related functions and will allow residents to get all of their business with the Board of Canvassers and City Clerk done in one shot.

Director of Administration Tony Pires is asking for the public's patience with any inconvenience they may experience during this time of transition. He noted that Grebien has made several other moves to centralize related government functions since he took office. The changes have led to better service for city residents, according to the mayor.

Pires said efforts to bring further efficiencies may lead to further internal office shuffling but the top priority will remain improving service to the public.

- Follow Ethan Shorey on Twitter, @TheStoryShorey.