Lawrence city government is straining the seams of city hall at Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
City commissioners will consider a proposal Tuesday to sign a five-year lease with Lawrence Riverfront Plaza for space on that building's first floor. The city commission meeting is at 4 p.m. at city hall.
City Manager Mike Wildgen proposes to move about 20 employees including Housing and Neighborhood Development to 6,500 square feet being leased.
Wildgen said that after 20 years city hall no longer is large enough to hold the growing number of employees.
Margene Swarts, community development manager, is one of the employees being moved. She said crowding has begun to affect work.
"Everybody is just all in this fish bowl together, and it becomes a distraction," Swarts said.
Swarts' department will have one more environmental inspector soon.
"I truly don't know where they will put the eighth person," she said.
Wildgen said he ruled out adding to city hall because there is little physical room for an addition and little financial room in the city budget.
"We've got so many other major capital projects right now," Wildgen said. "I wasn't ready to talk about another city building."
Wildgen said that by the end of the five-year lease he hopes to have a long-term space solution.
The city already has committed to lease 7,605 square feet of retail space in a building planned for the northwest corner of 10th and New Hampshire at a cost of $114,072 per year.
That space is to be occupied by Parks and Recreation and Human Resources.
If approved, the Riverfront Plaza space will cost the city $60,916 per year. Wildgen said he is recommending the lease because of the price and its nearness to city hall.
The city has a precedent of leasing space for its employees. The municipal court now operates from a leased building.
The city offices were in leased space in the Firstar Bank building downtown for 10 years before city hall was built.