Crews bringing new life to old city hallThe Farmington Civic Center opened its doors in 1969. For nearly 40 years, the building on Fourth and Oak streets was where all the major decisions about the community were made.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The Farmington Civic Center opened its doors in 1969. For nearly 40 years, the building on Fourth and Oak streets was where all the major decisions about the community were made.
But times, they do change, and last year, a new Farmington City Hall opened on Third and Spruce streets, leaving the former building vacant and used for little more than storage.
Now, the building is getting a facelift, a new life. By October, it will once again be a hub of activity for Farmington.
Particularly, for Farmington senior citizens. Come October, the former city hall becomes the new Rambling River Center, offering more space for more activities to meet the needs of more seniors.
The Farmington City Council approved moving the Rambling River Center on March 2. Four days later, Rambling River Center member Charlie Weber and park maintenance specialist Don Hayes went to work.
From the outside, not a lot has changed. On the inside, though, ceiling tiles and walls are missing. Carpet is being pulled up and thrown out this week. Electrical wires and outlet boxes dangle from the ceilings. It is far different from what the building looked like as city hall last summer, but also a far cry from what it will look like when the doors open again next fall.
As part of the renovation, a new sprinkler system is being installed. That is why walls came down first, Hayes said — so the contractor who will install the sprinklers can plan accordingly.
One of the conditions for making the building a new place for senior programs was that volunteers would be asked to donate time and energy to the project. Only a month in, Hayes says the seniors have already donated quite a few hours. Some have come once or twice. Others, like Weber, have been there just about every day.
“I’m impressed,” Hayes said. “They did an awesome job so far, because they care.”
The old city hall building had lots of doors and separate rooms, and many of those areas are being kept as is for different purposes. The city administrator’s office at the corner that faces Fourth and Oak streets has been identified as a library. The old council chambers will make an ideal space for the exercise room. A storage room near where the city directors’ offices once were will stay intact, complete with all of its cupboards and counters. It is an ideal place, Hayes said, for staff to store things for projects and activities.
Of course, there are a few new spaces being created. Walls have been knocked out in the area that once housed the police department, and then the parks and recreation department. That space is being considered for a craft room.
In the northern part of the building, where the community library was once located, a 115 person-capacity social hall is planned. It will be a space that could be rented out for retirement parties or birthday parties, Hayes suggested.
The building also allows for a few storage spaces and an office for Rambling River Center coordinator Missie Kohlbeck. The office that once belonged to former city engineer Lee Mann will become a computer room for seniors to use. There are four bathrooms — two for men, two for women — that only need minor modifications.
The renovation is estimated to cost about $265,000, according to numbers presented to the city council last month. Volunteer hours will be used to reduce some of that cost, as the seniors will do things like paint and wallpaper once the building is at that stage.
To get it to that stage, Hayes has also enlisted the assistance of Dakota County’s Sentenced to Serve program, which puts prison inmates to work earning community service hours. This week, the Sentenced To Serve workers were helping to tear up carpeting and dispose of trash.
Whenever possible, Hayes tries to recycle materials. Some of those materials will be used again in the building. Other pieces will be turned in for reimbursement.
“We’ve actually recycled a great deal,” Hayes said. “It saves us money instead of wasting it.”
So far, city administrator Peter Herlofsky is pleased with the project’s progress. On Tuesday, he toured the building for the first time in a couple of weeks, and had good things to say afterward.
“I was impressed,” Herlofsky said.”I think they have accomplished quite a bit in a short time.”