Weather Forecast


Willmar City Council receives update on lead problem at auditorium

WILLMAR — City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday says two mechanical and environmental engineering agencies are helping officials “wrap our hands around’’ the lead contamination issue at the historic downtown City Auditorium.

Halliday said the city has been working with the firms Gausman & Moore of Roseville and TSP of Rochester, which are putting proposals together for cleanup and for heating, cooling and air handling systems.

The proposals will mostly likely be presented to the City Council’s Finance Committee on Dec. 23.

Halliday updated the council Monday night on efforts by testing agencies to determine the extent of lead contamination in the building after a problem with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system serving the basement rifle and pistol shooting range surfaced in late August.

Experts say lead exposure at a shooting range can come from the primer compound, which is made of about 50 percent lead-containing compounds; the effect of the hot propellant gases on the base of the lead bullet; friction of the bullet against the barrel wall; and fragmentation of the bullet against the target and backstop.

Experts recommend among other things that shooting not occur in a poorly ventilated indoor range.

In the last few weeks, Braun Intertec tested paint and dust samples at 38 spots in the Auditorium and 4 spots in City Hall. Halliday said their report confirmed the results of a previous testing company “and so there are areas that we have some concerns.’’

Halliday said consultants will most likely recommend the ventilation system serving the pistol range in the basement of the Auditorium be decommissioned and correct the system serving the entire building.

The pistol range was closed after the lead concerns surfaced.

Halliday said the process is moving forward as quickly as possible.

“We’re looking at cleanup companies for a separate proposal, and they’ll bring all these packages together of the three-or-four-stage-task that must be completed to rectify the situation over there,’’ Halliday said.

Council member Ron Christianson requested the update because he said he has been receiving calls from citizens. He noted staff emailed an update to council members and he asked staff to update the public.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said Halliday has been handling the project and she asked him to provide the update.

Council member Audrey Nelsen asked if the city can keep the main floor open for now or does the city have to make some changes with public usage while the investigation continues.

“At this point we are comfortable with the usage that we have there and how we’re using it,’’ replied Stevens. “Obviously we’re not able to operate the range until we have a functioning (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system for that range. We’re good with the main floor.’’

The Auditorium was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1936-37. Forty years later, the range was established in a collaborative project of the city and the Willmar Rifle and Pistol Club. Construction of the range began in the fall of 1977 and was completed in May 1978.

In other business, the council approved a Public Works/Safety Committee recommendation to execute a joint agreement to hire a consultant to complete a U.S. Highway 12 corridor study through Willmar.

The agreement is with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Kandiyohi County. The consultant will analyze the full segment of Highway 12 from 45th Avenue Southeast on the east to County Road 5 on the west.

The city’s $50,000 contribution toward the $150,000 study is included in the city’s 2014 capital improvement program. Kandiyohi County will contribute $20,000 toward the study, and the Department of Transportation will pick up the remaining cost.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150