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Engan Associates awarded auditorium contract: Council OKs contracts for City Auditorium hazard abatement and building improvement project

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council has approved a $44,000 professional services contract with Engan Associates of Willmar for the City Auditorium hazard abatement and building improvement project.

The four-part contract approved Monday night covers design development, preparation of construction documents, bidding and negotiating, and construction administration.

Contract approval with Engan follows council action April 21 to proceed with hazardous material (lead) abatement caused by the privately-operated firing range in the basement and installing new ventilation equipment in the building.

The council hired Engan last December to develop a master plan after the city closed the firing range due to malfunction of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The master plan identified numerous needed upgrades and improvements.

The project will be broken into a base bid that includes all work to reinstall a basic ventilation system after the abatement process is completed.

Engan will provide four design development alternates:

- Renovate the firing range.

- Repair the bullet trap and install new ballistic protection blocks at the columns, which have been damaged due to ballistic impact.

- Replace the bullet trap and add ballistic protection blocks.

- Repair the gutters and downspouts.

City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said Engan had been developing plans for gutter and downspout repairs to allay concerns about building damage due to water infiltration. After viewing the gutter with the aid of a bucket truck, Halliday said Engan concluded the gutter is not as problematic as initially thought. Instead, most of the historic woodwork won’t need replacing but can be cleaned and painted, and Engan anticipates the gutter can be lined.

In addition, the council approved a $12,000 contract with Midwest Environmental Consultants of Jefferson City, Mo., to perform the environmental review and cleanup.

None of the reconstruction can begin until Midwest Environmental says the building is OK to enter, said Halliday. He said the whole auditorium will be cleaned. He said the deadline was to have the firing range operating by Nov. 1.

Halliday reminded council members they budgeted $250,000 for the project in this year’s capital improvement plan, although City Administrator Charlene Stevens said Engan’s preliminary project estimate is about $500,000.

Halliday said the Finance Committee has identified some additional funding options but no details have been finalized pending actual dollar amounts. “But there’s enough money in this current year budget to cover these two contracts,’’ he said.

Councilman Steve Ahmann asked if public bids or requests for proposals are required for professional services contracts.

City Attorney Robert Scott said competitive bidding laws dealing with construction contracts do not apply to professional services contracts, although the city can request bid proposals for professional services.

Stevens said the city would typically have requested proposals from other architectural firms.

“In this case we did not because (Engan) had done the initial study. In the interest of keeping it moving they already had the knowledge of the building that we did not choose to do an RFP,’’ said Stevens.

The City Auditorium, built between 1936 and 1937 by the Works Progress Administration, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the near future, Engan will submit a proposal for assisting the city in submitting an application to the Minnesota Historical Society for a small legacy grant to pay for a historic structure report.

Preparation of the report is an important step in the submission process for larger historic properties grants, which would then be used to help for accessibility upgrades, exterior preservation, and needed interior systems upgrades, according to a letter accompanying Engan’s contract.

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