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Officials expect to receive City Auditorium report in a month

Lead contamination from the gun range in the basement of the City Auditorium has spread to other parts of the building. Tribune file photo by Gary Miller

WILLMAR — Willmar officials say consultants should have a report ready in a month’s time on lead mitigation and upgrades to the downtown City Auditorium.

Engan Associates of Willmar with Duffy Engineering of St. Cloud were hired by the council in early January to conduct an assessment and master plan for the auditorium.

The consultants will assist the city in redesigning the auditorium’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system after officials learned last year that tests revealed shortfalls in the present HVAC system had spread lead contamination from the basement gun range to other parts of the building.

“They’re analyzing all sorts of things for the council to consider and various options to deliberate on and make some decisions,’’ City-Clerk Treasurer Kevin Halliday told council members this week.

Consultants will provide cost estimates with the proposals. Ideally, the consultants will complete their work during the self-imposed one-month deadline, Halliday said, and the report will be scheduled for presentation to the appropriate committee.

Halliday said nothing is officially adopted yet.

“They are discussing new uses and new codes we have concerns with and some of the strategies they’ve got,’’ he said. “We asked them to compare cleanup of the old duct work versus removing it and installing new, getting cost benefits.’’

Council member Ron Christianson requested an update on the auditorium study.

The city and the Willmar Rifle and Pistol Club established the gun range in the auditorium basement and began operation in 1978.

The city closed the range after officials learned that lead contamination from the range was a viable problem. Also closed were an adjacent instruction room and viewing room.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the city has provided other classroom options for gun instructors.

In an interview, Halliday said other rooms in the auditorium are also not being used. However, the basketball court remains in use because the floor is refinished every year and there is no contamination there.

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