The site of Fort Dodge City Council meetings could have a whole new look in the future.
Plans presented to the elected officials Monday showed how a former fire truck garage on the east side of the Municipal Building at 819 First Ave. S. could be converted to a council meeting room that would accommodate 130 people in the audience.
Designs for a new exterior staircase to replace the steps that have been crumbling for years were also displayed.
The council on Monday hired Allers Associates Architects of Fort Dodge to prepare final plans for both projects.
The firm received a $60,500 contract for designing the new council chambers, new restrooms, the addition of an elevator and renovations to the city clerk's office.
The firm also received a $14,000 contract for designing new stairs for the front of the building. Drawings displayed during the council meeting showed a staircase that's narrower than the current one and has pillars and lamp posts on its sides.
The staircase replacement is expected to begin this summer. A schedule for the rest of the work wasn't announced.
The city government has $700,000 from a bond issue to pay for the interior work. Chad Schaefer, the city's director of engineering, business affairs and community growth, said the stairs will be paid for as part of the crosstown connector project.
Also on Monday, Kevin Lunn, the city's parks and forestry superintendent, briefed the council on plans to combat the emerald ash borer which is spreading in Iowa. He said his crew is already removing diseased and damaged ash trees. He said he inspects the wood from those trees for signs of the insect.
''I've never looked so hard for something I didn't want to find,'' he said.
He said 28 percent of the 7,800 trees in city rights of way are ash trees that can fall victim to the pest.
Lunn said any non-emergency forestry operations will be placed on hold while the crew concentrate on removing diseased, dead or damaged ash trees.