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Posted on: March 15, 2019

Fundraising Underway for the Renovation of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Coliseum Roof Damage Ariel

The City of Marshalltown has announced that fundraising campaign for the renovation of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum has officially started.  $1.35 million is needed to help modernize the 90 year-old building, which was damaged in the July 19th tornado, into a modern facility that can meet the current and future recreational and community needs.  The total project is estimated at $3.6 million.

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum was originally constructed in 1928 after residents overwhelmingly approved a $125,000 bond. The purpose of the building was to provide a community center as well as create a memorial to the Marshalltown residents who had served in the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I. Over the years, the Coliseum has served as the home of many high school activities, including basketball and dances, prior to the Roundhouse opening in 1965, home to the American Legion, civil defense shelter, training quarters for the Iowa National Guard prior to World War II, and the location of many community events, including the Oktemberfest spaghetti supper and pancake breakfast and Holiday Stroll Tiny Tim Tree Festival.  The Coliseum is also the only indoor recreation space owned by the City of Marshalltown.  Many youth and adult sports leagues as well as SummerBlast and WinterBlast camps have had their home in the Coliseum.

The renovation of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum was something City leaders had in mind in 2016 when a grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation paid for a feasibility study on the building.  Completed in 2017, the feasibility study showed that a complete renovation of the interior portions of the building were needed to create a location which could meet the Parks and Recreation Department’s current and future needs and transform the building back into the community center it was intended to be.  Included in the renovation is a new entrance with an elevator, main floor restrooms, and many more accessibility and safety improvements.  The City of Marshalltown contracted with GTG Architects in November 2017 to begin work on the plans and specifications for the renovation.

On July 19, 2018, the SummerBlast summer camp kids and staff were winding down the day, waiting for parents to come pick-up kids when an EF-3 tornado devastated Marshalltown, including the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  The SummerBlast counselors acted heroically to get the kids in the basement and to keep them there as the roof was being ripped away.  The kids were able to get out safely, and no one was injured.  The story of the SummerBlast kids and staff was featured in a recent episode of “Rescue Heroes”, recognizing their quick thinking and bravery in the face of disaster.  This episode can be found here.  

A fundraising committee co-chaired by Vic Hellberg and Steve Storjohann, both graduates of the Class of 1964 and Vietnam War veterans, has set out to raise $1.35 million in grants and private donations.  “The vision that the citizens of our community had to honor those veterans needs to continue, in the present and on in to the future,” Storjohann stated.  Committee members include Kelli Thurston and Deb Mettlin, with City Council members Al Hoop and Mike Gowdy serving as liaisons to the group.

“Knowing we already had pre-tornado plans underway to renovate the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and then seeing the roof totally gone and assuming it was not structurally sound enough to repair, made for a tough blow, said Mayor Greer. “But when the engineers deemed it repairable, for the veterans it honors, and for so many generations who enjoyed it for dances, boxing, volleyball, basketball and children’s programming, with the opportunity to have seniors and children use it again, made this project a tremendous opportunity to rebound from the disaster and to improve our downtown.”

To donate, visit www.marshalltown-ia.gov/vmc or send a check made out to Veterans Memorial Coliseum Fund, 24 N. Center Street, Marshalltown, Iowa  50158.  All contributions are tax deductible.

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