Veterans Memorial Coliseum feasibility study in progress

Anticipated release date Sept. 15

T-R FILE PHOTO Construction of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum began in 1928, with dedication March 15, 1929, according to Times-Republican archives. Since the facility was originally constructed to honor Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I veterans, a special ceremony was held Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2009, to rededicate the building to all veterans. The ceremony also marked the building’s 80th anniversary.

How much to spend, where and when for improvements to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum?

Those are among a few questions Marshalltown city councilors, Parks and Recreation staff and local residents will have if they see a much anticipated feasibility study Sept. 15.

Architect Damion Spilman of the GTG firm in Johnston told the city council at its regular meeting last week his goal is to present the plan specifications and budget then.

At issue for the 89-year-old building is whether or not to make substantial changes at potentially major expense to the historic building’s floor plans, air conditioning/heating and more.

A key objective is to make the building Americans for Disability Act compliant while also offering greater opportunities for public use.

Concerning ADA — the building’s restroom facilities are located in the basement, making it prohibitive to use by people with disabilities.

“We have been adding detail, and clarifying things,” Spilman said.

The VMC is managed by the Parks and Recreation Department and is used by hundreds of residents annually for a myriad of activities.

Beginning in 2017, members of an ad-hoc task force were charged with determining a comprehensive use plan for the facility.

Their task: Determine the future use of the venerable VMC, a State Street fixture whose history is as varied as Marshalltown.

The team was Mary Lake, VMC veteran representative; Anne Selness, P&R Executive Director; Jenny Hart, P&R staff; Michelle Spohnheimer, City Housing and Community Development Director; Steve Grasso, GTG Companies of Johnston, Nick Salesek, VMC veteran representative. Also participating were Third Ward Councilor Mike Gowdy and Steve Storjohann, VMC veteran representative.

That team’s findings were conveyed to GTG.

Gowdy admitted it has been a drawn-out, but necessary process.

“We will get the results of the architect’s study and examine it closely,” Gowdy said. “I expect that will take awhile because we have a number of community stake-holders involved, ranging from veterans to P&R to active facility users. Their input will be critical, as well as that from city councilors. We will work to determine what to do and their related expenses.”

Gowdy said it will be necessary to wait until the joint police and fire facility is complete.

“That project is on the front burner now. (Occupancy is expected in December). We want to make sure that project is finalized before we move on to something else.”

Gowdy said it may not be until early 2019 that the council can look at all funding sources — including those from local businesses.

“We want to do this correctly,” Gowdy said. “This is a complex project involving a historic building … one that means a lot to area veterans and their families.”

A $25,000 grant received from the local Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation made the studies possible.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com