In order to increase public security at Wilmington City Council meetings, access to Council chambers in City Hall will be limited to one entrance by the end of this month, or early next month. Anyone entering into Chambers – including Council members and city staff – will be required to go through a metal detector.
The entrance facing Chestnut Street on the Thalian Hall side of City Hall will be the used during City Council meetings. Inside the hallway to the City Hall portion of the building, doors have been installed that will eliminate access to the secondary entrance to Council chambers. Those doors will be locked at 5 p.m. on days when City Council meetings are held.
The call for security upgrades has resurfaced several times over the last several years, but was not prompted by one event or individual. City Manager Sterling Cheatham said the city is trying to strike a balance between security and open government. “We want to make sure City Council meetings remain open and accessible to the public, but we also want to do everything we can to ensure citizens are safe when they are in Council chambers for a meeting,” said Cheatham.
Costs for the metal detectors and hardware upgrades is expected to be between $15,000-$20,000 when everything is installed. When City Council meets, two or three Wilmington police officers will be present to man the metal detectors and monitor the room.