It has been a groundbreaking year for the Union community, both marking progress and celebrating history.
East Central College celebrated 50 years, and Franklin County, with Union as the county seat, is marking 200 years.
There also was a celebration held recently for a new Scenic Regional Library main branch and administrative office in Union.
There is one more cause for celebration before the year ends. In less than two weeks, a ceremony kicking off construction for the new Union City Hall will be held.
A groundbreaking will be Monday, Oct. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the future city hall on West Locust Street.
The event is a culmination of decades of talks of upgrades, renovations and better accommodations at Union City Hall.
The earliest plans to renovate the downtown building have been discussed since the ’60s.
On Tuesday, construction finally began on an entirely new building to house the city administration and utility offices, ultimately freeing up needed space for the auditorium and other offices that will remain at 500 E. Locust St.
Aldermen discussed renovations in the mid-’90s, and even considered asking voters to approve a ballot initiative to fund a project.
In 2016, talks to update the current facility were resurrected. Then in 2017, a feasibility study identified many issues with the building, sparking a new plan to build a city hall building independent from the municipal auditorium.
The city government never has occupied a building itself — it has shared space with the fire department, police department and now the city auditorium.
Today’s project marks a new chapter for the city. It measures growth and the necessity to expand.
The project also is being constructed more than $300,000 under budget. The new city hall is being built at the former Fricks Market location at 10 E. Locust St.
The Fricks building was razed in August and construction crews have been removing the remaining foundation of the building left behind after demolition.
The move-in date for the city is tentatively set for October 2020. It will house the city’s administration, collector’s office, boardroom, court, meeting room and engineering department.
In addition to a new city hall, plans call for a renovated auditorium building, which still will house the city’s parks department.
The city hall project is among the largest downtown Union construction projects since completion of the Franklin County Judicial Center and the administration buildings in 2007.
Once it is completed much of the municipal and county government facilities will be less than 15 years old.
It may have taken several decades to come to fruition, but today’s Union city officials, and those over the past decade, should be applauded for their progress and dedication to the community and municipal government.
The new city hall is more than an administrative center — it also is another step toward revitalizing downtown Union.