Committee approves contract for City Auditorium upgrade study
WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council’s Finance Committee has approved a $9,500 contract with Engan Associates of Willmar and Duffy Engineering of St. Cloud to recommend upgrades to the historical City Auditorium, including the facility’s gun range ventilation system.
City officials requested proposals from architects and engineering firms after closing the auditorium’s indoor gun range in early September due to a malfunction with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
City Administrator Charlene Stevens said some testing was done of the building. Based on the failure of the HVAC system, officials found shortfalls in the gun range technology and the HVAC system, which led to closing the gun range temporarily to assess conditions in the building.
At the same time, access to other areas of the building were limited to due to concerns regarding potential lead contamination from the gun range HVAC system. Since then, testing revealed shortfalls in the gun range HVAC system.
Committee member Tim Johnson asked if the gun range has its own HVAC system or if the range and the rest of the building are tied together.
Stevens said she believes the gun range and the entire building are served by one HVAC system.
“That’s what the issue has been is that they’re tied together … and that’s why the problem with one has created a problem in other areas of the building,’’ she said. “We can’t reopen the range until we fix the HVAC because we’d just be exacerbating the problem we have.’’
The auditorium was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1936-37.
Forty years later, the rifle and pistol range was established in a collaborative project of the city and the Willmar Rifle and Pistol Club. Range construction began in the fall of 1977 and was completed in May 1978.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, lead is a naturally-occurring element that can be harmful to humans when ingested or inhaled, particularly to children under the age of six.
Lead poisoning can cause a number of adverse human health effects, but is particularly detrimental to the neurological development of children.
Consultants will make recommendations on lead and hazardous material abatement and cleaning; gun range improvements; mechanical equipment upgrades; and other considerations such as roof upgrades, handicapped accessibility and building code life safety upgrades.
Halliday said the consultants will also provide cost estimates, but it will be the council’s choice on what recommendations to implement.
Stevens said time was needed to obtain proposals because the work is somewhat specialized. Halliday said city staff lacks expertise to perform this type of work.
Halliday said the obvious priority is lead and hazardous material abatement and gun range improvements. He said a walk-through with mechanical firm representatives found noticeable deficiencies.
“There may be other things that they find,’’ said Halliday. “Laws have changed since 1977. We’ll use this opportunity while they’re in the building to tell the council about all the deficiencies we have over there.’’
Halliday said one of Engan’s specialties is historical preservation and accessing grants, and he said a state grant is available that could cover up to 50 percent of the study cost. Halliday said the application is deadline is Jan. 10 and steps would be quickly taken to meet the deadline.
In addition, Duffy Engineering was noted for experience with six public and private firing ranges.
The council allocated $250,000 in the 2014 budget for range and auditorium improvements. Stevens said the city is trying to move the project forward because many different users have been inconvenienced.
Audrey Nelsen offered the motion Monday night, seconded by Rick Fagerlie, to hire Engan and Duffy to perform the study, and the motion carried. The council will consider the committee’s recommendation Jan. 6.
“This is a good move to get us going because we are inconveniencing a lot of folks,’’ said committee Chair Denis Anderson.
The city also received two other proposals:
n TSP and WSB, Inc., of Rochester for an hourly rate not to exceed $22,500. The firms were noted for designing the Kandiyohi County Law Enforcement Center gun range.
n Miller Dunwiddie and Gausman & Moore of Roseville for $9,800. One of Miller Dunwiddie’s specialties was historical preservation.