Historical Memorial Hall expects renovation, design plans proposed

Local News

Joplin’s historical Memorial Hall saw its second Memorial Hall Study Meeting Thursday night, October 1, which presented conclusive information about what the public hopes for the Hall to become. A cooperative presentation by Brian Garvey, from SFS architecture, and Darin Barr, principle at Ballard King & Associates, explained the findings from the first Memorial Hall Study survey and public input from the first meeting. 

Boards were available showcasing the proposed, potential plans, for Memorial Hall, which Garvey and Barr further discussed in their presentation. Garvey broke down the “Scope of Work and Schedule,” saying the project is about two months underway, with one final meeting to follow. Thursday’s meeting was set to discuss “concept review,” which the next meeting on October 27 will “confirm direction.” 

“The second meeting was to give an update, one, based on the survey results, which kind of leads into some conceptual drawing and ideas of what Memorial Hall could be in the future,” said Paul Bloomberg, Joplin Parks and Recreation director. 

Overall, Garvey said that they are primarily focusing on renovating the interior of Memorial Hall while keeping the exterior the same for the most part, but with some improvements. Garvey gave a building assessment, which highlighted the various exterior areas that will need work—such as cracking, settling, and roofing—though he called them essentially “cosmetic issues.” 

The proposed, potential design that Garvey introduced included removing the majority of seating on Memorial Hall’s main level and replacing them with meeting rooms, renovating the stage area to where it is more accessible, and other additional changes. The balcony level was proposed to keep the majority of its seating, but also with a couple possible meeting rooms added. Garvey said they are looking to add multiple meeting spaces because they have heard that they are lacking in the community. One essential meeting space Garvey stressed that they want to implement is a space for the American Legion, as they currently hold their meetings in Memorial Hall’s basement; his proposed idea is to create a meeting space on the balcony level large enough to hold about 40 to 70 people. 

“Right now it’s simply just an idea, it’s just a possibility, it’s just one of many that could happen,” Bloomberg said. “What you see tonight could totally change. But, it’s the first idea that’s come to them to present to us, the citizens, based on what came out of that first study. So, this is just a concept, just one—this could change by the next time we get together. It’s just exciting, you actually get to see something on paper. … My offices were originally in Memorial Hall 20 years ago, so I have a lot of history with it. So, to see something renovated into what it could be is awesome.” 

Another idea Garvey proposed as part of their design is the possibility of building additions on either side—east and west—of Memorial Hall. He said these could serve as multifunctional spaces for recreational use, athletic classes, educational classes, and more. Though, Garvey said they would look for the public’s feedback for how these spaces would be used. Garvey summarized that overall they are looking to make each newly renovated area of Memorial Hall as multifunctional as possible, so they may serve more than one possible purpose. 

Barr discussed the market assessment aspect of Memorial Hall, addressing the immediate and primary service areas that the Hall serves, as this information will impact the chosen usage for Memorial Hall. He also presented a list of possible indoor activities from the National sporting Goods Association that could take place in Memorial Hall, which ranged from several athletic sports, in addition to a list of possible non-sporting activities—such as fine arts. 

“… Definitely the thing that came out the most was (the public doesn’t) want it torn down, they want us to renovate it, and the veterans have to be included in this concept, no matter what,” Bloomberg said. “It was built for them and they still need to be involved in this building. Whatever we do, they have to be the number one reason with this renovation.” 

One survey has already been completed as part of the Memorial Hall Study, though a second is set to go live Thursday, October 1. Garvey discussed that the first survey, which was used to gather general input, was “very successful” with a “high level of response,” as it received 819 responses with a 92 percent completion rate. The second survey will be more specific and with not as general-based questions. 

The next and final Memorial Hall Study meeting will take place Tuesday, October 27. The general public is encouraged to take part in the second survey so their input may be taken into account for Memorial Hall’s future usage. The survey is available on the Joplin Parks and Recreation Facebook page or may be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MemorialHallPossibilities?fbclid=IwAR0Nk-Etc75VZCFB3lUq4tVuCk61pY0VY65YlCEcCq4dUMoorWj2cXoji3Q

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