Progress being made on Hettinger Armory renovation project

Members of the Hettinger Armory Committee and Hettinger City Council met for a third month in a row to discuss the progress on the committee’s efforts to revitalize the nearly 60 year-old building. After years of debate, progress is moving in the right direction for those looking to save the facility.

Jim Long (L) sits during the Hettinger City Council special meeting about the Armory project as Allen McIntyre (R) addresses the room. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Recod)
Jim Long (L) sits during the Hettinger City Council special meeting about the Armory project as Allen McIntyre (R) addresses the room. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Recod)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor |

During the previous meeting, the second in a series since December, the committee agreed to divide the members into separate, more concentrated subcommittees in hopes of spreading the work. Each committee had a focus; finance, structural issues and fundraising were among the focuses of the subcommittees. During this meeting, those committees brought a report on their work over the past month.

A small, student-driven survey on the Armory project was recently held, and those results were also discussed. Out of 128 completed responses, 107 said they would “support such an effort both personally and financially” to revitalize the building into a civic center type facility. Twenty-one said no with four incomplete surveys.

“We were impressed with the good feedback,” Jim Long said at the meeting.

The survey was short and sweet. It was one-word questionnaire requiring a simple yes or no answer, taking a minimal amount. The survey also included a space to suggest new names for the building. From tabulating the responses, the three words most used in the suggestions were Hettinger, civic, and center; so putting them together you get the Hettinger Civic Center, according to Long. Though the committee said they are far from officially renaming the building.

The subcommittees also brought forward their progress on their research.

Committee member Allen McIntyre said that this process will take time, but that it’s important to hold meetings every month so the project doesn’t get away from the committee. He also requested that each subcommittee provide a written report each meeting on their progress, so they have it on paper, can share it easily with every member, and so they don’t overlook something.

“If we don’t have it (meetings) every month it’s going to get away from us,” McIntyre said. “And if we don’t have it down in black and white, then we’re going to miss something.”

Though progress continues to trend in the right direction, the committee has yet to decide on the final purpose of the building.

Most of the conversation during the meeting circled around a community fitness center, with a multi-purpose gymnasium in the main auditorium.

Committee members cited personal conversations and previous survey responses as evidence of community interest in a community fitness center. Some of the renovation choices will have to wait until the committee knows what the building will house, because certain improvement options will depend on the services offered by the facility.

Some of the committee and council members thought they should get input from other entities, such as the Hettinger Park Board, before officially deciding a purpose for the facility. Before the next meeting, the plan was to communicate with other organizations around the community, to find out if any partnerships made sense as the project moves forward.

The next meeting was scheduled for March 15 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hettinger Armory in the City Council room.