Shawnee leaders approve renovating community development department at city hall

The community development department at Shawnee city hall will be renovated to spur further efficiency and better customer service.

The community development department at Shawnee city hall is getting a makeover.

The Shawnee council unanimously approved in a 7-0 vote at its Monday meeting the final plans to remodel the community development department.

Mantel Teter, a Kansas City-based architecture firm, developed the final plans which will renovate 1,875 square feet of space in the west basement area of Shawnee city hall. Once complete, the new layout will consolidate employees in the community development department and allow more efficiency, according to city records.

Shawnee staff sought the renovations after three key city hall staff members retired this year, including community development director Paul Chaffee. City records indicate staff then reviewed the structure and functions within the community development department and implemented changes to increase efficiencies, productivity and service.

Three sub-departments, including development services, public works and planning, were consolidated into two departments, including public works and community development.

“During this transition, staff realized there were additional opportunities to improve and streamline processes for internal and external customers as well as ensure clear communication within and across divisions and departments,” assistant city manager Caitlin Gard wrote in an Oct. 8 memo. “The physical location of employees played a large role in ensuring both of these goals were met.”

Councilmember Jim Neighbor said he supports the remodel project for the community development department.

“I think anything we can do to make it easier for people to consolidate the process and improve the process, as far as doing business, and the fact that there’s funding available for it,” Neighbor said, “I think it would be very worthwhile for us to go ahead.”