Crystal Falls officials seek funding to repair city hall
By NIKKI YOUNK
CRYSTAL FALLS – At 99 years old, Crystal Falls’ city hall is showing its age.
Although there are many parts of the building that Crystal Falls City Manager Dorothea Olson would like to spruce up for its centennial next year, there is one issue that requires immediate attention.
One of the glass block walls in the second-floor auditorium is bowing in to the point that the window in the center cannot be properly closed. Two other glass block walls may be starting to bow in, as well.
“It’s definitely changed since last year,” Olson pointed out. “It’s getting worse.”
Olson is concerned that the glass block wall could collapse and be a hazard to anyone walking on the sidewalk below. The wall is located on the east side of the building, just above the entrances to the police department and fire hall.
To address the issue, Olson formed a building committee with mayor Janet Hendrickson and city council member Jack Bicigo.
Committee members recently toured the building in order to prioritize maintenance needs. They agreed that the glass block wall is the number one problem.
The committee is currently soliciting for proposals from engineering firms to design and oversee the repair of the glass block wall. A preliminary estimate from a structural engineer put the cost between $30,000 and $40,000.
“The immediate concern is safety,” Olson explained. “We have to fix it regardless of any anniversary celebrations.”
Other auditorium maintenance issues noted by the building committee included a weak hardwood floor with boards that bend down when stepped on, water damage from a previous leak in the roof, and cracked ceiling plaster in the balcony area.
Fresh paint is also needed throughout the interior of the building.
The city does not have enough funds to complete all of the additional updates, but grant money may be available if the city hall can get on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the past, the building’s auditorium hosted plays, performances, and dances. Up until about five years ago, Forest Park High School used the space for its annual prom.
Now, use of the auditorium is restricted. The Harbour House museum utilizes some of the space for storage, but no large groups are allowed to come in.
“Do we let it deteriorate or do we do something with it?” Olson asked.
Olson said that the city is also looking at possibly having the city hall included in a larger historic district.
The Crystal View Apartments complex, which is located directly across Superior Avenue from city hall, and the Iron County Courthouse, which is located a few blocks to the west of city hall, are already on the historic register.
Nikki Younk’s e-mail address is email@example.com.