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Master plan outlines upgrades to extend life of City Auditorium

WILLMAR — The 26-page master plan developed by Engan Associates of Willmar for the historic City Auditorium identifies upgrades to extend the life of and expand the use of the building. The entire plan may be viewed here.

Engan Associates studied the building’s condition, developed a list of upgrades, outlined the process for applying for historic tax credits and Minnesota Historical Society Legacy grants, and determined the budget of key upgrade projects.

Engan’s study revealed these important issues:

* Hazardous material (lead) from the basement firing range needs to be abated. This process may remove ductwork, heating/ventilation/air conditioning equipment, and building finishes. New ventilation will be needed to return the building to operable condition. Testing for the cleanup process may be done independently or by an abatement company. Cleaning of moveable objects and equipment is typically not done by the abatement company.

* The firing range will need a new air handler, ventilation and exhaust system. New room finishes and acoustical finishes will be needed after the abatement process. New ballistic protection blocks are recommended for protecting walls and columns. The deceleration backstop needs some repair. If it cannot be repaired, it will need replacement. To effectively maintain the firing range, a bimonthly cleaning policy should be instituted after the range is operational.

* The building needs sprinkling and fire alarm systems that meet code. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires accessibility upgrades for all occupied floors. Further, a second means of egress is needed for the second and third floors.

* Water is entering the building at the ground surface level next to the downspouts. Roof gutters and downspouts are leaking, causing damage to exterior masonry and interior finishes. Damaged masonry needs repair.

 * The existing heating system uses district hot water heating. The ventilation system is comprised of exhaust fans with a make-up air handler. More fresh supply air is typically needed to meet the current mechanical code.

 * The second and third floors are underused due to the absence of needed maintenance and upgrades, and should be made useable.

Other needed upgrades include the following:

* New roofing options should be reviewed.

* Some masonry restoration should be considered.

* An elevator and accessible restrooms need to be provided, and Americans with Disabilities Act building code upgrades are needed.

* New energy-efficient light fixtures should be installed in areas of renovation, and energy-saving construction should be reviewed.

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