Renovations begin on City Auditorium
WILLMAR -- Willmar City Council members have unanimously supported a staff-recommended financing plan to complete lead remediation and renovation at the historic downtown City Auditorium.
WILLMAR - Willmar City Council members have unanimously supported a staff-recommended financing plan to complete lead remediation and renovation at the historic downtown City Auditorium.
Council members voted 8-0 Monday night to approve a $1,121,000 financing plan that lets the city complete lead and hazardous material removal, install new ventilation equipment and renovate the privately operated gun range in the basement where the lead problem originated.
Also, the council approved a $744,000 contract with Corner Stone Construction of Willmar for new heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, for new electrical work and gun range renovation.
The financing plan accounts for $250,000 already budgeted in this year’s capital improvement program and spent for the auditorium project.
That initial funding paid for architects’ development of a master plan; testing and air monitoring of asbestos, and air and lead paint by environmental consultants; and removal of contaminated materials.
Bids for the next phase of the project were opened Sept. 9. City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said four companies submitted bids and he recommended, and the council supported, awarding the contract to low bidder Corner Stone.
Halliday said the auditorium will be returned to its previous condition before all the ductwork, asbestos and tile were removed and the work will make the gun range quite operable with new furnishings on the walls and floors, and other improvements.
Halliday said to date the city has locked in $279,121 in contracts, plus a pending figure on disposal of debris. With Corner Stone’s renovation bid, he said the city needs to finance $1,097,521, plus a 10 percent contingency.
Not counting the $250,000 already budgeted and spent this year, the financing plan takes funds from the following sources:
• $250,000 from the
$1 million insurance deductible reserve
• $250,000 from the permanent improvement revolving (PIR) loan fund
• $50,000 in excess 2014 capital improvement funding
• $163,000 from Willmar Regional Access Channel reserve
• $76,000 in unspent vehicle replacement program dollars
• $82,000 from unspent prior year capital improvement funds
Halliday said the
$1.125 million is a little more than expenses. “But we like to be on the safer side of identifying funds than an exact match,’’ he said.
Councilman Denis Anderson, Finance Committee chair, asked if the council is taking excess funds from prior years that would be budgeted in 2016. Halliday said Anderson was correct.
Anderson noted the 2015 budget includes $50,000 to begin repaying the PIR loan fund.
During discussion, Councilman Ron Christianson commended Halliday and staff for coming up with the money. He said it seems like a lot to repair and to replace needed items such as the gun range. But he said the spending is pretty reasonable for years of use.
The auditorium was constructed in the 1940s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I think we owe it to the people that built it and we have a war memorial room to honor those to served in all the wars,’’ he said. “We need to do this project. I’m comfortable with the financing plan. It looks good.’’
He said Willmar will have one of the finest indoor ranges in the state and will attract people here.
Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen asked if the improvements trigger accessibility requirements. Halliday said they do not because the improvements are mainly mechanical upgrades.
He also said there is no money for an elevator and that the city does not rank on state accessibility funding because the city has not identified uses on the second and third floors.
Nelsen asked if permits or licenses have been obtained to operate the gun range.
Halliday said adoption of the budget and contract will trigger that going forward.
“We need a cleaning plan, a lead abatement plan. We need to decide if we’re going to clean ourselves or contract it out. We’ll have new protocols for testing. The test once in 30 years will no longer happen,’’ Halliday said.
“Those new protocols will be told to us either by (consultants) Midwest Environmental Consulting as they exit the program or Safe Assure and it’s probably testing every two years to make certain we do not have any more lead being pushed all over the building. Staff will begin to work on those,’’ he said.