Group to move on to building study of city hall

MARSHALL – Now that they have a better idea of the problems with Marshall’s city hall, members of a building task force agreed Friday it was time to find out what it might cost to solve them. Group members agreed to approach a local architect about conducting an updated building study.

“We need to find out what the prices are, and we need to find out what to do. It’s as simple as that,” said group leader John DeCramer.

Members of the task force have been meeting for the past couple of weeks to discuss deficiencies in the Marshall municipal building. On Friday morning, group members briefly discussed possible health hazards in the current city hall building before moving on to the question of how to conduct an updated building study.

Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said there is likely asbestos present in some parts of the current building, especially in the insulation for the building’s boilers. Given their age, he said it’s also possible there is some asbestos in the floor tiles and in the glue used to attach them.

However, Olson said that wouldn’t pose a health hazard unless the materials were in the process of being removed.

“It isn’t a health risk because (the asbestos) is not airborne,” he said.

Olson said there might also be possibility of mold inside walls, ceilings or ductwork in the building, although evidence of “active,” harmful mold hasn’t been found yet.

Olson said a more thorough identification of hazardous materials would need to be done before any demolition or renovation in the municipal building.

Structurally, the municipal building is still very sound, said architect Ron Halgerson. Using the original building blueprints from the 1960s, he pointed out the reinforced concrete pillars and structures that went into its design.

“Everything was built around supporting the garage’s weight,” Halgerson said. Aside from the garage floor’s deterioration, he said, “it’s very durable.”

Olson said another question that group members might want to consider was how to address city hall’s air conditioning for this summer. Currently, only one out of three of the building’s air conditioning units works.

Group consensus at Friday’s meeting was that further questions about the municipal building – including how to address HVAC concerns – couldn’t be answered without a more detailed study of the building. Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig said things like space considerations, project costs and associated costs like land acquisition for a new municipal building could all be explored by a consultant.

“I’d like to see a range of options,” both long and short term, said group member David Sturrock.

After sending Halgerson out of the room, group members discussed whether to open the search for a consultant with a formal request for proposals. Martig said it likely wouldn’t be a problem to find firms willing to do a study. A local consultant might be more accessible to answer questions, he said.

Group members directed Martig to approach Halgerson about the building study.