Discussions Begin About the Future of the Stillwater Armory


What should become of the Stillwater Armory?

Should it be an art center? Or maybe a public gathering place of some sort?

The city of Stillwater is considering its options.

A resident has suggested that in Governor Mark Dayton’s proposed bonding bill he has disposition toward funding for art projects vs. capital projects, Mayor Ken Harycki said. She suggested that the city may want to consider a bonding request for the state to help purchase the 92-year old Armory, and retrofit it into an arts center.

“I don’t want us to be in the art business,,” Harycki said, “but if we have the opportunity to secure the building with funds it may be worth looking at.”

Rather than bonding for arts funds—and limiting the building’s options for use—Council member Tom Weidner suggested the city consider seeking legislation for a reduced purchase price.

Sen. Karin Housley has suggested she would introduce a bill for such legislation if that was the city’s wish, City Administrator Larry Hansen said.

“If we did that could we could use it for public use, whatever that may be, not necessarily just art?” Weidner asked. “Not that I’m against an art center, but why limit the use, if we have another opportunity.”

“If there’s the possibility of getting it for a nominal fee—reduced to like $10 or something— can we seek that first, and then determine the use of the building later? If that fails, could we then bond for an art center?”

There is a long list of bonding projects before the legislature, Hansen said. “Both are difficult paths, but I don’t know why we couldn’t pursue both of them.”

Council Member Mike Polehna said he wants to know what the city would be getting into before considering ownership.

“I want to know what we’re getting into,” Polehna said. “Are we going to buy a nightmare for the city to take care of if we get it? Is it full of lead paint? Does it need to be tuck pointed? What does it need?

“I think it would be good to have the Armory with the city, but I want to know exactly what we’re getting carte blanche if we’re going to ask the state to bond for it. I want to make sure we’re doing good by the citizens before I say yeah.”

The building has its limitations, Hansen said, but it’s in “pretty good shape.”

City staff was directed to seek the advice of local representatives, and report the findings back to the council.

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