Ask an Official: City admin discusses new Expo Center
This week’s featured question was submitted for Merrill City Administrator Dave Johnson:
The question reads:
“I have a few questions about the expo center over by the fairgrounds, any help you could give me would be appreciated thanks. First of all, when will it be finished and what will be located inside? How big will it be when its all said and done and last but not least I heard rumors there will be a huge debt with the expo center, is that true? How much is still owed on it?”
Answer as given by Johnson:
“The new building will be named the Bierman Building and will house the Merrll Area Enrichment Center, presently housed in the City Hall basement, and the Merrill Expo Hall. The 20,000 square foot building is scheduled to be completed June 15 at a cost of $1.6 million. The Enrichment Center will occupy 6,000 square feet of the building with a separate room for quilting/sewing, crafts, craft sales, full service kitchen, conference room, storage, and offices. A portion of the Expo Hall will be used for the lunch program and other activities. We are presently seeking funds for a portable rubberized walking track for the Expo Hall. Until the funds are raised for the track the facility will still be open for indoor walking. The 14,000 square foot Expo Hall will be available to rent for events like weddings, class reunions, and any kind of small trade shows.
“No, there is not a ‘huge’ debt on the building. Thanks to a very generous donation by the Bierman Family Foundation, as well as substantial donations by the Judd Alexander Foundation, the Greenheck Foundation, and the Bader Foundation, the majority of the building is paid for. We are still seeking donations to pay for the remaining balance. Even if we do not raise another penny for the building, having more than 75% of this facility paid for already through donations is a big deal for the City of Merrill. This facility gives the Enrichment Center the ability to offer more programs to a greater number of area citizens than has been possible in the past, as well as provide a larger event venue than has previously been available in Merrill, all with a large amount of parking capacity.”