Crews begin rearranging security features at Arizona House

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(Source: 3TV/ CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)
PHOENIX (AP) -

Crews are removing a security perch inside the Arizona House of Representatives building to make more room in the lobby area for lobbyists and visitors.

Existing security gates and metal detectors will be rearranged to better control traffic entering the chamber's building, the Arizona Capitol Times reported Monday.

The $16,000 security workstation and a large table near the elevators will be removed.

The work would free up between 450 to 500 square feet (42 to 46 meters).

The work is estimated to cost $45,000 and should be finished by late December, said Matt Specht, spokesman for the Republican caucus.

The construction of the entire security system - complete with metal detectors, gun lockers and a Kevlar wall - originally cost taxpayers $442,000 after the project went 52 percent over its projected cost of $290,000.

Former Speaker David Gowan believed it was a necessary investment in response to "global increase in attacks on public venues."

The security system was completed just before he left office in January.

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard pushed for the latest remodeling in May.

While Rep. Kelly Townsend agrees the perch takes up too much space, she wasn't in favor of taking apart something that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We're gaining 450 to 500 square feet for lobbyists. I don't think that's a good price," she said.

House Speaker Pro Tempore T.J. Shope disagrees.

"Four hundred and fifty feet is rather large; that's nothing to scoff at," he said.

Crews are looking to see if any material from the security perch can be salvaged to construct two security podiums similar to podiums in the Senate, said Deputy Chief of Staff Amilyn Pierce.

After the work is completed, House staffers and credential visitors will enter the chamber through security gates on the left side of the building. All other visitors will pass through metal detectors on the right.

Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, www.arizonacapitoltimes.com

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