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Former museum may become meeting hall
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RIPON — Elected leaders are hoping to put the old museum building at Stouffer Park back in operation.

They’re envisioning this place as a meeting hall or a small-venue rental option for special occasions such as a wedding or family reunion.

But first the structure with 1,900-square-foot of useable space would need to be rehabilitated. At Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting, Ted Johnston, director of public works, indicated that a 15-foot portion of the building’s wall has dry rot damage.

“That area had discoloration from water damage. Possibly from roof leaks from years past,” he told the council.

Johnston was uncertain on the cost for repairs to the front side of the building. At this point, his best guess was $35,000 for work consisting of ridding the dry rot, and re-sheeting, siding, and resealing the walls.

“I would recommend we go out to bid,” he said, with the project to include the addition of a second restroom – the building currently has one stall for private use – along with the installation of a walkway leading to the parking lot at Stouffer Park, and the purchase of 10 tables and about 80 chairs.

“I think we should look at restoring the building,” Councilman Chuck Winn said. “People are always looking for a venue (in Ripon) for small gatherings.”

His colleague, Dean Uecker, agreed.

“It would be a beautiful place in the park for outdoor weddings,” he said. “We should also look at additional nearby parking – but that would be an additional cost.”

If restored, Johnston noted that the building could accommodate as many as 125 people, with 100 maximum for dining. Compare that to the Ripon Community Center, where capacity was estimated at 400 maximum.

Council members weren’t too concerned about finding a funding source as of yet. For now, they’re directing staff to continue looking into the project, with the matter to be revisited at a future meeting.