WATERFORD — It's one of the smaller amenities of the new City Hall building, but it's surprisingly important: the janitor's closet.
Up to now, the crew that cleaned City Hall had to transport all its supplies to the modular building that housed the city's administration staff.
Waterford became a city 44 years ago and has grown to house roughly 8,500 people, but City Hall has been a portable building set back in a parking lot near downtown.
The permanent building has been under construction at 101 E St., along Highway 132. Rain late last year caused a couple of minor leaks and delayed the landscaping, but the building was ready for its coming-out party Thursday night an open house ahead of the City Council meeting.
"They made our deadline," City Manager Tim Ogden said of the construction crews. "We wanted to move in that slow week near Christmas and New Year's, and we did."
Waterford is the most recent area city to move into new digs. Gustine and Newman also relocated recently, though both those cities remodeled. Waterford built new and, as Ogden likes to point out, its project is debt-free, unlike many municipal construction projects.
The city has been putting money aside for years for the project, originally envisioned to include Stanislaus County and sheriff's offices, as well. Though the plans have been scaled back over the years, the security camera system remained a priority.
"It took us 15 years to get this," Ogden said. "We want to protect it."
Thursday night's City Council meeting was the first in the new building; previously, the council met at the community center. And that also entailed a lot of carting around of equipment, Ogden said.
"We had to pack up our laptops and bring them over," he said.
Now it will just be a matter of stepping into the council chamber. He said he hopes the nicer digs will encourage more residents to attend the meetings.
One of the first matters the council was to take up Thursday is what to do with the former City Hall; Ogden said the city is looking into options to turn it over to police services.
Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.