Marshall city hall status part of council work session

MARSHALL — There wasn’t really any doubt, Marshall City Council members said — something had to be done about the condition of the Marshall Municipal Building.

But how exactly to address issues with the current city hall and the vacant Marshall Hotel building next door was a question that needed a little more reflection.

During a council work session Thursday night, council members spoke with representatives of architectural firm Engan Associates, about how to approach the planning process for renovating or rebuilding city hall.

Last year, a city building committee recommended that Marshall hire Engan Associates to renovate or rebuild city hall. The committee reached their conclusion after a couple of months’ worth of discussions on the current state of the building and hearing presentations from architectural and engineering firms. A previous building committee had suggested renovating city hall back in 2014.

As part of Thursday’s discussion, Marshall city staff presented some general notes on the Municipal Building, including a list of the major improvement projects and building studies done in the past 35 years. A total of $197,000 was spent on improvement projects since 1984, including building permits for two roofing projects, a 2008 office remodel, and the addition of a wheelchair-accessible ramp to the front entry in 1993. About $89,400 was spent on building and engineering studies since 1984, city staff said.

Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes said city officials have known for a long time that renovations were needed at the Municipal Building, but there were always other higher-priority projects. A big question, Byrnes said, was, “When is the furnace not going to be functional?”

Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson said the city was notified at least two years ago that the Municipal Building’s boiler wouldn’t be recertified. However, the city has gotten two one-year extensions while talks about possible renovations were going on, he said.

Olson said city hall also has problems with leaking windows, electrical systems that aren’t adequate for current use, and an elevator that isn’t ADA-compliant.

“I don’t think we can get away from the tough questions about the building,” said Marshall City Administrator Sharon Hanson.

In discussion, council members said the major question the city still faces is whether to renovate the Municipal Building, to move somewhere else, or build a new city hall entirely. Engan Associates’ presentation to the city last fall had talked about tearing down the current Municipal Building and the Marshall Hotel and building a new city hall in the same spot.

“I don’t think we have to make a case for doing something,” said council member Glenn Bayerkohler. However, he thought the city needed to look at different options, including possibly moving city offices into an existing building, like the Mercantile building near the corner of Main and College.

“People want to know that we investigated different options,” he said.

Other council members also gave their priorities for a new or improved city hall. Council member James Lozinski said the building should be practical. Byrnes said safety was also an important need.

Engan Associates representatives said they would take the council’s feedback, and look at some possibilities for the existing building sites and other building sites in Marshall.