A new vision for the town hall | News, Sports, Jobs


MARSHALL – Actual construction on the renovated Marshall Town Hall took about a year, but the renovation project itself took years.

Finding a solution to the construction and space needs for Marshall’s municipal offices meant balancing cost, schedule and other public needs, Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes said.

“We always wanted to have the right plan to serve the community for the future”, said Byrnes. “I hope time will tell this is the right decision.”

Lack of space and other issues with Marshall’s 1964 municipal building had long been on the city’s radar.

“There was a whole series of things that got worse”, said Byrnes.

“I remember one of the questions I was asked when I first ran for City Council was, ‘What are you going to do with City Hall? “ said John DeCramer. DeCramer has served on Marshall’s board since 2009 and has served on some of the building committees that have focused on Town Hall in recent years.

The municipal building, which originally served as a municipal office, fire station, ambulance garage, police station and municipal court, had long exceeded some of its uses. A stand-alone fire station for the Marshall Fire Department was built in the 1970s and the Marshall Police Department moved to the Marshall / Lyon County Law Enforcement Center in the 1990s. Over time, the council chamber on the second floor also lacked the technology to host and broadcast public meetings, Byrnes said. The Marshall City Council has held its meetings in the district offices of Marshall Public Schools for more than a decade.

The utilities and structural parts of the municipal building had also shrunk over the years. Years of damp and road salt from the old police garage had damaged part of the concrete slab forming the main level of the building and rendered part of the lower level unusable, Byrnes said. The building also had issues such as leaks, an aging boiler, and an elevator too small to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“There was no good way to make an easy repair” Byrnes said. Plus, Marshall has gone through other big construction projects in recent years, and city leaders didn’t want to overburden taxpayers.

The city has conducted more than one study to try to find solutions to the problems facing the municipal building, DeCramer said. A building working group that met in 2014 recommended that the building be renovated. In 2017, the city approved a proposal to hire architectural firm Willmar Engan Associates to explore options for rebuilding or renovating City Hall.

“We went back and revisited other (construction) sites”, said Barbara Midgarden Marks of Engan Associates.

The renovation of the Town Hall on Main Street would not only incur construction costs, but also the costs of relocating municipal staff to temporary offices during construction. However, while it might have been cheaper to build a new town hall in a different location, “Staying at the current location solves several problems” said Marques. The municipal government would still have a presence downtown and the city would avoid having to demolish or try to sell vacant property on Main Street. “They really made the decision to support downtown. “

In November 2019, the city approved a base bid of $ 4.89 million from Brennan Companies of Mankato to renovate the building.

“There were real challenges about it, and that’s not a bad thing” Marks said of the project. A big challenge was to tear off the concrete slab forming the main level of the building and lower it about two feet to street level, said project manager John van Dyck, of Brennan Companies.

“With the removal of an entire floor, there were logistics that we had to deal with. “ said van Dyck. First, the structure of the building had to be stabilized and the construction team had to build a ramp so that they could remove the concrete rubble from the basement. The first floor slab was cut into sections using specialized equipment, before being recast.

“We mainly had robots to cut the ground”, said Marques.

The town hall basement was also ripped off and lowered about six inches to accompany the change in level of the ground floor, van Dyck said.

Additional challenges arose halfway through construction. The city had hoped that the long-vacant Marshall Hotel building next to City Hall could be redeveloped, but work on the City Hall project revealed water damage affecting the two structures along their common wall. In a separate project, the city demolished the hotel in the spring of 2020.

The demolition also revealed that the east wall of the municipal building was not square – the building was several inches wider at one end than the other. After a building committee including board members DeCramer, Russ Labat, and James Lozinski considered the options, the city decided to tear down the wall and rebuild it to correct the mistake.

“At that point, we thought we are at this point, we should do it right” DeCramer said.

The reconstruction of the wall and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic both required a lot of additional logistical work, said van Dyck. But he credited the workers and project superintendent Nathan Hrdlichka with keeping the renovations on track.

After spending just over a year in temporary offices on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus, the Marshall City offices returned to City Hall in July 2021. The new building design brings High traffic areas like the City Council Chamber, the Marshall Community Services and the City Building Department down to the ground floor.

“The redesign of the building really brings service to people,” said Marques.

The design of the building also refers to previous designs of the town hall. The exterior brickwork and shape of the building echo the design of Marshall’s Town Hall in 1914, and the wallpaper in the main lobby resembles the terracotta screen pattern covering the facade of the 1964 municipal building.

“We are proud of the project. We think it went well ”, said van Dyck.

“I think the outside looks good, and we have a lot of room for growing inside” DeCramer said.

“There was a very positive reaction from the public”, Byrnes said.

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