City hall plans take step forward

MARSHALL – Some possible ideas for renovating Marshall’s aging city hall came before a city building committee on Friday morning. Committee members toured the Marshall Municipal Building once again but this time to go over a floor plan concept presented by architect Ron Halgerson.

Halgerson stressed that the concept design was just a basic idea for renovation, not an official plan.

“At this stage, we want to focus on (the city’s) primary needs,” Halgerson said. Details would have to come later.

Committee members haven’t yet committed to a course of action for the municipal building, either. However, the committee did vote Friday to have Halgerson continue looking into factors like cost estimates for the concept design.

The building committee, made up of city council members, city staff and local residents was formed early this year to address concerns with Marshall’s 1960s-era city hall building on Main Street. Currently, the building has a variety of issues, ranging from an ailing boiler to chronic leaks. Part of the building’s lower level is closed to the public because of concrete flaking off the slab that makes up the floor of the old city fire and police garage.

At Friday’s meeting, Halgerson updated committee members on architectural firm TSP’s work on a possible renovated floor plan for the building. TSP met with city staff to learn about their space needs and concerns and took that into account in creating the floor plan, Halgerson said.

Based on staff’s reported needs, “The existing building appears to have sufficient space for now and into the future,” Halgerson said.

Halgerson walked committee members through the concept designs for all three levels of the municipal building. The lower level would include conference rooms, storage space and handicapped-accessible public restrooms. Halgerson’s concept also included possible office and studio space for Studio 1, Marshall’s community-access cable channel.

The main and second-story floors of the municipal building were the most changed in the concept design, mainly because the design makes use of the space currently taken up by the old garage. Halgerson said the garage floor, while deteriorated, still appeared to be structurally sound. The floor slab could be reinforced and the former garage space used for offices. Because it’s “a formidable job” to build a new elevator shaft into an existing building, Halgerson said, the concept design called for a handicapped-accessible elevator addition to be built outside city hall’s current structure. The municipal building’s current front steps and wheelchair ramp would be torn out to make room for the elevator and a new, street-level entryway.

Halgerson said city offices that get more visits from members of the public, like Community Services and building inspections, would be moved onto the main floor of city hall. The assessing office, finance office and administrative office would all be located on the second floor, along with an improved city council chamber. Because of the number of load-bearing columns on the building’s two lower levels, it would be difficult to have a large public meeting room anywhere but on the second story, Halgerson said.

Halgerson said the concept floor plan actually exceeded city staff’s space needs, mostly because it opened up previously unused space in the old garage.

Building committee members’ consensus was that they wanted more time to consider the floor plan concepts. However, the feedback they gave Halgerson was positive. Committee members voted to have Halgerson continue to work on possible building estimates for the designs. They also asked that city employees be given a chance to tour the municipal building and weigh in on the concept designs.