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Wednesday Meetings Produce Good Feedback on the Future of Memorial Hall

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – When it comes to the future of Memorial Hall in Downtown Hutchinson one thing that emerged as a priority in focus group meetings held was adding air conditioning to the 112-year-old building.

Luke Scott from WDM Architects, which the City of Hutchinson hired last fall to do a full study of Memorial Hall, told members of the City Council and representatives of the Landmarks and Planning Commission during one of those sessions that the building itself is in very good shape.

Among the ideas to come out of those meetings is potentially re-purposing space in the building, including the elimination of the 3rd-floor balcony, and focusing the auditorium as a primarily performing arts venue. Other thoughts centered on making the office space within the building usable and looking at other “out of the box” uses for Memorial Hall.

Another topic discussed was handicap accessibility. There is currently one elevator in the building. The possibility was raised of adding another. The idea of removing the ramps currently leading to the upper levels was brought up. Those ramps were put in over existing stairs some years back and are not usable by people in wheelchairs due to their steep slope.

Charlie Moon, who is a business development advisor for WDM, suggested renovations be looked at in phases. This would include prioritizing immediate needs over the next five years, projects 5-10 years down the road, and those beyond ten years. It was suggested by community activist Jesse Juma that a nonprofit organization be established that could raise funds for Memorial Hall restoration.

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