Architect Richard Werner with Werner and Associates sat down with Monett City Council members and City Administrator Dennis Pyle to share ideas on a master plan for the casino. Werner recommended the city have an in-depth structural analysis of the building made. Council members voted to have Sprenkle and Associates complete the assessment.
Werner said adding a major addition to the casino at $110 to $120 a square foot would not be cost effective. An addition to the east would make a long building with a tunnel effect that would not be conducive for meetings. Tying together a roof on a new addition with the old roof could also be problematic.
If the city wanted a big building to accomodate meetings of 400 people or more, Werner advised erecting an entirely new building. He did not believe the way the casino was presently configured could be made to effectively serve much larger groups.
Demand for a much larger facility seemed limited to only a few times a year at present. On the other hand, there appeared to be no lessening in the number of smaller gatherings that use the casino.
"The public likes the cozy, homey feeling of the casino," Pyle said. "Those who came to the meeting thought you would lose that in a larger facility."
Looking for a pay-as-you-go approach to improvements, council members listened with interest as Werner proposed making a series of upgrades to the casino. In the first phase, Werner suggested flipping the location of the current kitchen and the restrooms. Wider restrooms would be able to meet all the federal accessibility requirements instead of just having handrails and narrow doors.
Casino users do not seem to use the kitchen for making full meals as they once did. Werner said a smaller warming kitchen would adequately serve the needs of caterers.
Construction would likely proceed with new bathrooms first, Werner said. Other work would include adding new paint and upgrading the electrical system to accommodate technology. The wood paneling on the walls would likely be removed. Werner suggested raising the suspended ceiling as much as possible and redoing the ceiling under it.
In the second phase. Werner proposed installing new energy-efficient windows and installing insulation in the walls. New, more durable siding could be attached without changing the building's appearance.
More major changes to the interior could be left for the second or third phase. Werner suggested that the space in the building could be made more useful. For example, the hallway running across the building from the entrance serves as a gathering place. Werner proposed building a new porch, like the entrance into the lounge, on the south side entrance, moving the gathering place to a different space.
The hallway could then be altered by removing the east wall, widening the auditorium and providing seating for 20 to 30 additional people. Werner felt the hallway space could still function as a serving area.
Keeping as much green space around the casino remained a priority for Werner. He proposed no expansion of the existing parking area.
Council members liked Werner's ideas. They directed Werner to create preliminary drawings with elevations that could be shown to the public. They discussed scheduling a public forum in the not too distant future to get public input on the plan.
|Pyle said council members would like to hear from families and groups who have used the casino in recent years.||"This is the preliminary scope of what could be done," Pyle said. "Council members had no strong feelings one way or the other on which way to proceed."|
Sentiment was shown for keeping the building.
"The casino has strong emotional significance to the community," Pyle said. "So many people who have grown up in Monett have been to school events and church functions there. The casino may not have historical significance as a building, but it certainly is tied to a lot of memories."