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City hopes to get Mars work soon
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Plans for the renovation of the Mars Theater could be afoot soon, after Springfield City Council’s action at its meeting Tuesday night.

Council members approved a proposal from Sanders, Trowell and Associates for architectural design and a Kern-Coleman proposal for engineering services for the Mars Theater project. Sanders, Trowell and Associates will be paid $10,000, with a $5,000 retainer and $5,000 at the issuance of construction documents, and Kern-Coleman will be paid $8,500.

"Most of the legwork has been done in the last couple of years," City Manager Brett Bennett said.

Architect Scott Trowell has been involved in the Mars Theatre restoration project for some time, and the Springfield Revitalization Corporation recommended the firm.

"He’d like to continue working on it," Bennett said.

Kern-Coleman will be designing the mechanical, electrical and plumbing fixtures for the theatre.

"Tom Coleman has done a lot to help get us grants," Bennett said.

As part of the work, new bathrooms that are Americans With Disabilities Act complaint need to be installed. The approval of Kern-Coleman also will get the rest of the exterior work completed.

"This will get the outside done," Bennett said, "all the cracks and leaks and all the problems with the structure. It’s not an elaborate fix, but it gets it operational."

Council members are anxious to get more work on the theater completed and start putting it to use.

"We’re trying to make it to where people can be inside safely," said Council member Kenny Usher, who presided over Tuesday night’s meeting. "There are several steps to come."

The city also is receiving a $70,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources for a potential walking trail. The grant proceeds will be used to buy property to tie the Living History Site into Early Street.

"That was welcome news," Bennett said.

Bennett said he didn’t anticipate much construction being necessary to put in a walking trail, with the city perhaps putting in boardwalks to get over low-lying and damp areas.

Bennett also praised the efforts of the DNR’s Sonny Emmert in helping the city land the grant. The city applied for two grants but withdrew one application when it was awarded the $70,000 grant.

That grant is on an 80-20 basis, with the state putting up 80 percent of the money and the city matching it at 20 percent.