Armory to be studied for new Benson city offices

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Benson’s National Guard Armory building was built in 1927 and is one of few historic buildings left in the community.

Benson’s City Council approved spending $26,500 for a study that will develop a scope of work for turning the Amory building into a new city hall.

Architect Reed Becker of Widseth, Smith, Nolting of Alexandria is to provide the city with drawings for floor plans along with a 3D image of the what the building will look like when remodeled. He is to also provide the city with estimates for construction costs.

Once the plans are complete, they are to be in a form that can be presented to the public at a public hearing. A public hearing would be necessary should the city decide to seek public approval of bonding to pay for the project.

Benson’s National Guard Armory building was built in 1927 and is one of few historic buildings left in the community. Renovation plans call for tearing off the front of the building, but it has been proposed the new structure be designed to mimic the current look.

Council Member Jack Evenson made the motion to proceed with the study with a second by Stephanie Heinzig. Council Members Lucas Olson and Terri Hawley joined Evenson and Heinzig, as well as Mayor Gary Landmark, in approving the expenditure.

Late last year the city commissioned an architectural and environmental study of the Armory so that it could assess its fitness for a new city hall. It was also interested in possibly using it for a new police department.

Benson Public Schools currently use the Armory for its gymnastics program. It is also used for roller-skating, public events and is open for those who want to walk indoors. Concerns about the fitness of the building for public use were expressed when a tour of the building by the council revealed mold growing on the basement walls and asbestos containing materials on pipes and the office floors.

The structural and environmental study of the Benson Armory by Widseth, Smith and Nolting of Alexandria building showed that it was safe for the public to use.

However, the study recommended removing and replacing the two-story front office of the building if the city planned on using it for a new city hall or police department.

Benson’s Armory is essentially three different buildings Becker told the council in December. There is the two-story front office space, the gymnasium and the north storage area....


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