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Commission gives its OK to demolish Blue Building
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McMinnville Historic Zoning Commission approved the city of McMinnville’s request to demolish the Blue Building’s auditorium and gymnasium.The city’s request for a Certificate of Appropriateness, which would allow the removal, passed unanimously Monday morning by members Bobby Kirby, Tom Ward and Ben Newman.Current plans by the city are to remove the two structures and seal the main building to prevent further weather damage to it until the city can decide what should be done with the building.Representing the city was Alderman Ken Smith, who says the auditorium is a hazard and renovating the gymnasium would cost more than demolition and replacement.“We have an auditorium that is being held up by an act of God and we have a gymnasium where part of the wall is tied into the auditorium,” Smith said. The city is considering building a “state-of-the-art” fire station and police station in that spot, says Smith.“The consensus of opinion is to build a state-of-the-art fire department and a state-of-the-art police department,” Smith said. “There are no plans approved yet, but that is the recommendation of a number of board members.”The decision was made due to the police department’s rent being approximately $50,000 a year, which would cover more than half the debt service for the construction of a new facility, and a recommendation by Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) that the fire department needs a new fire station, says Smith.When it comes to the main building, the board is considering the placement of the police department, if a new facility is not built, and/ or a multi-use center.“The consensus of opinion is that it needs to be made into a welcome center, a town center, a center for various offices,” Smith says.