Mitchell's facilities studies for Corn Palace, City Hall, Rec Center and library cost taxpayers $150kThe city of Mitchell has agreed to four facility studies in recent months at a cost in excess of $150,000, including more than $120,000 from city funds.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The city of Mitchell has agreed to four facility studies in recent months at a cost in excess of $150,000, including more than $120,000 from city funds.
City Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson said the money is being well-spent, since millions of dollars and several large city projects are at stake.
“Considering the number of capital projects we’re working on currently, that’s really not out of the ordinary,” Wilson said.
Here’s a brief look at the studies:
* In 2011, the city, with some financial assistance from the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, hired Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, a Minneapolis design firm, to come up with a proposal for an expanded and renovated Corn Palace.
The cost: $115,000, with the city paying $85,000 and the chamber paying $30,000.
* Last fall, a pair of architects were hired to perform a feasibility study on the Mitchell Public Library, either to alter the facility or relocate the library.
The cost: $15,340, with the library paying half and the council the other half. The library’s share will come from fines, according to Library Director Jackie Hess.
* Earlier this month, the council authorized a study on reconfiguring a building to serve as a new City Hall. No firm has been hired yet.
The cost: $10,000.
* Mitchell Parks and Recreation Department Director Dusty Rodiek said the city has hired RDG Planning & Design, of Omaha, Neb., to create a conceptual drawing of a Rec Center expansion. The drawing is expected to be shown to department staff soon.
The cost: $10,000.
* The combined bill for the four studies: $150,340. The city’s share: $120,340.
The studies are all tied to large-scale projects involving City Hall, the Mitchell Public Library, the Recreation Center and the Corn Palace, all of which are owned by the city.
Monday, the City Council discussed moving City Hall to the Mitchell Public Library building and having the library share space with a Mitchell School District library on the soon-to-be-vacated Mitchell Technical Institute north campus.
The council is considering moving City Hall from its current location next to the Corn Palace. The two buildings are virtually one, with a shared wall and connecting doors.
By moving city offices out of that 10,000-square-foot space, exhibits and other attractions could be added to make the Corn Palace more attractive to tourists.
Councilman Greg McCurry, who asked for the library study, said he feels the studies are money well spent. McCurry said Hess originally asked for money for a new circulation desk but he said the city should look at future needs of the facility.
“I like getting a third party involved,” he said.
That makes sure the city is getting “an unbiased opinion,” McCurry said.
Hess said she is still mulling the possible future of the library and didn’t want to comment on the possibility of moving into a shared space with the Mitchell School District.
Two architects, Richard Freske, of Huron, and Larry Jirsa, of Mitchell, are conducting the library study, she said.
“We started this before the idea of moving the library,” Hess said. “It’s all preliminary at this point. I think it’s going to boil down to the cost of renovating MTI for the library’s needs and the cost of moving City Hall.”
The library, located at 221 N. Duff St., opened in 1970. It is 17,000 square feet, Hess said.
Councilman Ken Tracy, who serves on the City Hall Relocation Committee, said the city wants to find a building in downtown that has at least 15,000 square feet for a new City Hall.
The library fits those two needs, he said.
Hess said the library board will discuss the options for the facility at its next meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the library’s conference room. The meeting is open to the public.
Hannah Walters, the director of the Mitchell Convention & Visitors Bureau and a member of the Corn Palace renovation/expansion committee, said MS&R has been paid in full for the Corn Palace study, which called for a large-scale expansion that would cost more than $25 million.
“No more has been paid or authorized,” Walters said.
The firm has done some work for the committee since its contract ended, she told the council. But since the initial plan has been considered and rejected as too costly, the firm could draw up plans for a smaller expansion — at a cost.
Councilman Mel Olson noted that some of the plans drawn up for the major expansion are still usable. Olson said some of the proposed new tourism attractions could be created using the drawings and plans already paid for by the city.
The proposed Rec Center expansion will consider a larger indoor pool in the city and a bigger fitness area. An indoor playground is also being considered and, if City Hall is converted to part of the Corn Palace, another gym may be needed if the armory above City Hall, which is used for basketball practice and leagues, is converted to other uses.More from around the web