Otsego finalizes Prairie Center design

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing writer

The City of Otsego has decided on a final design for the Otsego Prairie Center, formerly City Hall. It will include room for senior and children’s programming, as well events and meetings. The overhaul will update the cosmetic look of many areas of the building and complete some mechanical repairs. Otsego’s history will also be prominently on display in the new space.

Last year, most city offices were moved to the Public Works building, which is now City Hall. This left a lot of unused space that the City Council knew they wanted to repurpose and make useful for the community. They formed a committee that spent many months deciding what they wanted the building to offer people and what kind of a layout would accomplish it.

The renovations are expected to cost up to $450,000. Previously, $326,000 was budgeted for the makeover in the Capital Improvement Plan. City Administrator Lori Johnson said that the city has extra funds available for the project.

City Planner Daniel Licht said that a lot of the cost is for building repairs.

“The building is 20 years old and it’s never been extensively remodeled. The roof is a significant item. The air conditioning and heating are all original to the building. So you have half of the total costs going towards the HVAC and the roof,” he explained.

The footprint of the building itself and many of the rooms will stay the same. A meeting room at the front of the building will gain a double-sided fireplace and a cosmetic update. It will be rentable, as will many of the rooms, for groups or events, but Public Works Manager Ross Demant intends that room to eventually be for senior programming.

“The thought is that we take the time to build up a base of seniors that feel comfortable here and we actively work with them to develop programming,” Demant said.

He said the types of programs they might offer could be anything from bridge games to pool tables, depending on what they see a need for from local seniors.

The building is already home to classes and events for children and families. In its second year, Demant said that the city’s public programming is going well and that the remodeled building will help it expand.

The Council discussed adding a window between a meeting room and the City Council chambers, where many classes and events are also held, so parents could watch their little ones in class without disrupting them.

The front entrance will be updated with stone columns and a roof overhang.

The main hallway will become a destination, instead of just a space to pass through, with the addition of display cases where photographs and other historical artifacts will tell the story of Otsego’s history from its beginnings to today.

The building would continue to house the Parks and Recreation department, as well as an office for the Heritage Preservation Commission and an office for the Wright County Sheriff’s Department.

The bathrooms would be moved and rebuilt to become accessible for people with disabilities.

Demant said that the end result will be worth all of the work that went into planning the renovations.

He said, “The way we have it configured, I think it meets everybody’s needs really well. It really gives us a multi-purpose feel so I think we can have everything here that we want and everyone in the community can enjoy it.”

The renovations are expected to be completed this September.