By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — During the July 16 meeting of the Marshfield Board of Public Works, board members voted to execute a contract to hire Don Nikolai Construction to tear down the Vaughn-Hansen Memorial Chapel, a longtime landmark in Hillside Cemetery.
The chapel was constructed in the late 1970s as a location for graveside services.
The city of Marshfield was considering options for the chapel back in Sept. 2015, because the building had seen little use in recent years and was now facing some fairly significant maintenance and repair needs. Repairs on the 40-year-old building included window and door replacement, a new furnace and air conditioning system, sealing work, and work on a mold and mildew issue.
A number of options had been considered by the city, which included removing the roof and making it an open-air facility, converting it into a columbarium to house urns, and tearing it down.
Advocates to restore the building looked for funds from the city, but a concrete purpose for the building remained unclear and failed to get support from city leaders. A private donation to restore the building was also presented, but the funds failed to come through.
In August 2017, a plan developed to raze the chapel and replace it with a “reflection center,” which was later approved by city leaders. At that time, the proposed cost to demolish the building was estimated at $50,000, and the cost to create the reflection center was figured to be around $10,000.
At the July 16 Public Works meeting, Parks & Recreation Director Justin Casperson presented four bids for the razing of the chapel, at $39,400, $24,800, $22,360, and $14,690, with local contractor, Nikolai, coming in as the low bidder.
The board approved the bid and authorized staff to move forward with the contract.
“This is just the demolition,” said Casperson. “We expect construction of the reflection center in 2019.”