City Commission talks potential expansion, renovation of Peace Memorial Auditorium


City Commission opened with the commissioner comments on Tuesday at 7 p.m. These comments included Mayor Wynn Butler’s reminder of upcoming Veteran’s Day and the Mayor’s Spirit of the Holidays Light Parade. The meeting moved on to approve the consent agenda, which includes routine and previously discussed topics, without any commissioners’ comments.

The general agenda discussed the designs for the upcoming renovations and expansion of the Peace Memorial Auditorium. Leading the presentation was Bruce McMillan with Bruce McMillan AIA, Architects, P.A. Included in the expansions is new offices for the parks and recreation services and three new offices for the city attorneys. These spaces will add 7,300 square feet to the north side of City Hall. Also, new restrooms and break and work rooms will be added to the space.

City Commissioner Karen McCulloh had concerns over the natural lighting in the area.

“Workers’ efficiency is improved with natural light,” McCulloh said.

New energy-efficient windows and skylights will be added to the north side of the building.

The Peace Memorial Auditorium is not receiving any updates to any of the current stage lightings and sound. The renovations of the auditorium will include updating the heating and cooling system. Part of the ceiling will be removed to work on the ducts for the heating and cooling. Otherwise, most of the ceiling will remain intact, which reduces the initial anticipated costs for the renovation.

“We’re very excited we’re going forward with the arts,” Randi Dale, Manhattan resident, said after the meeting.

According to Dale, the heating and cooling system has not had much work done since stage was built in the 1900s. Concerns about the renovations is what to do with the foyer outside of the auditorium.

“We should get groups such as the veteran’s group involved to come up (with) something to honor the veterans,” Butler said.

The foyer is meant to honor the war veterans in Manhattan. It was decided that the foyer would remain a separate project, the details of which would be discussed at a later time. Any updates to the stage will also be done at a different time. The funds for those would be privately raised through fundraisers or donations.

Jason Hilgers, deputy city manager, said that there will be a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 18 where the public and city commissioners can ask McMillan and others about any concerns about the designs.

According to McMillan, there is currently no contract to get the expansion and renovations completed. He said there will be one, hopefully, on Tuesday, Dec. 16.