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NEW ULM – The New Ulm Parks and Recreation Commission will be reduced by two members. The commission unanimously approved a recommendation to reduce the commission from nine to seven.
New Ulm City Council reviews the composition of all city commissions, committees and councils. The park and recreation was one of the city’s biggest commissions. Only the Sister Cities Commission is more important.
As a rule, a smaller commission or committee is more efficient in the conduct of business. For any committee to conduct business, a quorum or more than 50% of the members must be present. Since Parks and Recreation has nine members, at least five must be present at a meeting to conduct business. By reducing the commission to seven, only four commissioners would be needed to do business.
The terms of Bob Skillings and Christopher Vorwerk were due to expire at the end of the year. With this recommendation, the commission would have a maximum number of members without the need for additional nominations.
Final approval of the reduction will come before city council.
Commissioners Skillings and Vorwerk were awarded for their service at the end of the meeting.
The commission received a presentation on the restoration of the Riverside Park building.
The Old Franklin School was built in 1892 and was used as a two-room school for 50 years. The building was eventually donated to the city and operated under Park and Recreation. Currently, the building is operated as a Riverside History and Nature Center by Director and Curator Ron Bolduan.
Parks and Recreation Facilities Maintenance Supervisor Ryan Weier provided an overview of possible restoration work to be completed over the next decade.
Repairs to exterior masonry, including grouting and filling cracks, will be an ongoing maintenance item throughout the life of the building. An average of $ 500 per year will be required. Replacement and painting of exterior woodwork is also recommended and would cost $ 10,000 between 2022 and 2023.
The replacement of the window openings in the basement was necessary. It was recommended that the painted plywood be replaced with a fiber cement board. This was budgeted at $ 2,000.
The front entry door needs to be replaced. The existing steel door and wooden frame are in poor condition and do not provide an accurate historical representation of the building. A modern door that better reflects the original appearance of the building could be found. With the replacement of the door frame, the cost is estimated at $ 10,000.
Interior restorations are expected to cost more, but could be delayed until 2024. This includes the removal of a temporary ceiling that was built below the original tin panel ceiling. Weier said the tin ceiling is in good condition and can be exposed, but the space will need to be painted and the walls will need some repair. New lighting will be required as the existing lighting will be removed along with the suspended ceiling. This project is estimated at $ 45,000.
Further upgrades to electrical outlets, interior doors and woodwork finishes and hardwood floor repairs are planned.
The building’s asphalt shingles were installed in 2003 and are in satisfactory condition. The shingles should last between 20 and 25 years. Replacement of the shingles would likely not be necessary until 2025 or perhaps 2030, but the cost is estimated at $ 30,000.
Weier closed the presentation with a list of optional upgrades for the Franklin Building. Currently, the building does not have a gutter system and historical images indicate that it never had a gutter system. A gutter system would control water runoff and reduce degradation of the stone and mortar foundation. The cost of a gutter system is $ 7,000.
A larger project option was to rebuild the entrance dome. Old photos of the Franklin Building show it once had a dome that housed a school bell. The dome could be rebuilt with modern building materials. The cost is estimated to be a minimum of $ 50,000. Weier recommended that if the dome was replaced, it should be done during the asphalt shingle replacement to keep costs down.
The budget for the restoration work on the Franklin building is $ 22,000 between 2022 and 2024; $ 52,000 between 2024 and 2027 and $ 80,000 between 2027 and 2030. The estimate of $ 80,000 included the $ 50,000 for the reconstruction of the dome.
The commission approved the plan and the implementation of the restoration plan. Only the concept of the plan was approved. Financial and project costs would be approved as part of the annual budgeting process. Staff would recommend that these projects be budgeted for over the next several years.
Parks and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz said the department is in the process of creating restoration plans for other buildings in the park system. Riverside was one of the main improvement sites.
Riverside Park is the central park of the Minnesota River Parkway master plan. He said the Natural History Museum and Learning Center currently operating in the Franklin Building was the perfect use for it, but there were other options for the park. The Parks Department has a concept for a trail system starting at the Community Garden and crossing Riverside Park.
Park commissioner and city councilor David Christian has said he wants improvements to be made to the park. At Visioning 2020 meetings held a few years ago, the general public identified Riverside Park as one of the best locations for development in New Ulm. Christian said the general public wants this job done.