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Civic Center to be brought up to code

Archives Museum, Senior Café to temporarily move
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Construction on the Civic Center to bring it up to modern code could start as early as September. That’s according to interim public services director Mark Miller, who said renovations will include upgrading the building to meet ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliance, energy efficiency and ventilation standards. “We are studying the consultant’s report and looking at engaging architects to begin the work,” Miller said. “We have several approved architects that we have to pre-qualify and then we will get started at that point.” The Civic Center, located at 472 E St., currently houses the Lincoln Area Archives Museum and the Senior Café, the latter organized by the nonprofit countywide Seniors First. “We are working very hard to find a good interim space (for both tenants),” Miller said. “We’ve got a number of places we are looking at for the Senior Café and we want to keep it downtown because that’s where most of their customers come from.” Possible locations for the Senior Café include McBean Pavilion, the Veterans of Foreign War building and the Lincoln Community Center, according to Miller. Possible locations for the Lincoln Area Archives Museum are the former City Hall/police station located on Beermann Plaza, McBean Pavilion and the archives room at the current City Hall, Miller said. “There are a number of places but nothing is definite,” Miller said. “Once we delineate the plusses and minuses of spaces, we will talk to the users to get their input. Both users are valued. We wouldn’t want to see them kicked out.” Miller said the two users would be able to return to the Civic Center once the renovations are complete. “The plans are to accommodate existing users and a lot more users,” Miller said. “It’s a beautiful old building and needs some TLC. We want to maintain its appearance as much as possible and preserve the building.” Miller said the building is safe to be in, according to an assessment completed by consultants in March. “The report said (mold) is relatively benign and there was also a concern about lead that turned out not to be a problem,” Miller said. “The asbestos is not friable. Friable means the asbestos can be particulated (in the air) and the asbestos in the Civic Center is not friable.” The city will use $1.4 million in grant money “to restore the Civic Center to its historical purposes,” according to previous News Messenger reports. “We want to make sure we spend the grant money appropriately and the money we have can only be spent on grant purposes; not for police, fire, library or recreation,” Miller said. Miller said the city would like the Civic Center be an “economic draw.” Melanie Robson, the Senior Café program director, said she “absolutely feels” the city is working with Seniors First. “They are in the process of finding us a temporary home for the café until the renovation is done, and as soon as it is done, we will move back in there,” Robson said. “I think the location is great. I think it’s pretty central. If we could have some more people from Lincoln Hills come over and join us for lunch, that would be great.” Barbara Hitchcock has lunch at the Senior Café most days, and said, while “the food is good, it’s the social aspect” that draws her in. “I live with my family and get a lot of interaction with them but to be with your peers is a very important thing,” Hitchcock said. Shirley Russell, the archive museum’s volunteer executive director, said she is looking to find a benefactor to cover the Archive Museum’s utility bills. “If we are to be moved back over (to the Civic Center), can we expand? We have a number of pieces of furniture and equipment that we would like to make displays of and we are unable to do so,” Russell said. “The old City Hall on the plaza is perfect. It’s an empty building and we could use the whole thing but it is my understanding it is to be shared.”