RAMADI, Iraq --
RAMADI, Iraq (Aug. 24, 2008) – Ramadi citizens, along with city and provincial leaders, came together Aug. 24, to take part in the grand opening of the 17th Street Municipal Building.
The municipal building, also known as the “Red Building” by the locals because of its distinctive color, will serve as the local government’s city hall. The building will be occupied by the mayor, city council members, and other elected and appointed city officials.
“This building will help serve the people of Ramadi,” said Latif Obaid, the mayor of Ramadi. “Now, the city’s officials have an official place to work and focus on the public.”
The three-story building also serves as a symbol of restoration in the recuperating region.
“The building is symbolic,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Jett, a team leader with Civil Affairs Detachment 2, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, and a native of Oceanside, Calif. “It’s a landmark; a keystone building in the center of Ramadi. It symbolizes to the locals that their government is back on its feet.”
Before the renovation efforts, the building was used as a student dormitory.
The structure was severely damaged during fighting early in the war and needed extensive repairs to refurbish it. It was often used as a launching pad for attacks by insurgents.
“The building was hit by almost every type of munitions known to Coalition forces,” said Capt. Angel Torres, the Commanding Officer of Civil Affairs Detachment 2. “It was just a frame with a big hole in the middle of it.”
For the last year, the mayor of Ramadi worked inside the local police headquarters for an extra layer of security. But now that the city is a great deal safer, the local government decided to move the mayor’s office to a separate location.
“In the past, the mayor and city council would meet at the Joint Coordination Center, which is essentially the police headquarters,” Torres said. “By having the mayor’s office at the JCC, Coalition and Iraqi forces, were insinuating the mayor needed the police for protection. So, by moving the mayor’s office, we’re now saying the mayor and the police are separate entities. We were able to do this because the city is much safer than before.”
With the security gains in the region, the Iraqi people have embraced peace and have begun reconstructing their city. According to Obaid, the grand opening of the municipal building was a visible testament to the tireless efforts of the people of Ramadi and Coalition forces.
“We’re able to open this building today because of the increased security situation,” Obaid said. “The Iraqi Police, with the guidance of the Coalition forces, have been able to provide a tremendous level of security and they’ve been able to serve as a strong deterrent for any insurgent activity in the city.”