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Security is one reason Fargo City Commission's new chambers won't have windows

An architect's rendering offers a view of Fargo's proposed new city hall building with bigger windows. Note the rectangles on the tan City Commission chamber are metal panels. The view is from the southeast. / Source: T.L. Stroh Architects.

FARGO — The City Commission's chambers at the new City Hall building will not have windows partly because city officials are worried about security, according to City Administrator Bruce Grubb.

"We hate to think that way, but there might be a security problem there," Grubb said.

"The police chief did say, 'You've got windows there, Tim, your head's a perfect target,'" Mayor Tim Mahoney said. "So we said, 'OK, let's rethink this.'"

Commissioners approved a $104,000 increase to the building's construction budget Monday, June 19, of which $45,000 was for changing windows to metal wall panels. This, along with past changes, brings the total construction cost to $23.2 million, up 3 percent from the bid contractors submitted.

The chambers are in a wing attached to the main City Hall building, which will continue to have large windows.

But security concerns weren't what initially prompted removal of the 12 windows in the original design.

Grubb said after the bids came in May 2016, TV news stations complained that all the light would make it hard to record videos of commission meetings and city staff, which also records meetings for livestreaming and re-broadcast, concurred.

Discussion of the windows soon led to the security concerns, which were not prompted by any specific event locally or around the country, he said.

Instead of 12 windows, the commission chambers will have metal rectangles that are essentially enormous picture frames.

Grubb said the city plans to make the rectangles available for the public to decorate with artwork, which will be protected by a layer of plexiglass placed over them.

Tu-Uyen Tran
Tran is an enterprise reporter with the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began his newspaper career in 1999 as a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald, now owned by Forum Communications. He began working for the Forum in September 2014. Tran grew up in Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington.
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