News is not good for the deteriorated condition of the Blue Building’s auditorium and gymnasium. McMinnville officials have voted in committee to do away with both.
During a joint meeting of Building and Grounds Committee and Finance Committee on Tuesday night, members Aldermen Ken Smith, Mike Neal and Rick Barnes voted unanimously to recommend removal to the full board. Absent from the meeting was Alderman Ben Newman.
The decision was made after reviewing a report by Peter Metts, president of AEI, that says the main section of the building is in “reasonable condition.” However, renovating the auditorium and gymnasium would exceed the cost of building new structures.
Smith recommended removal.
“We have a situation where we have a main building that is structurally in good shape,” he said. “It needs quite a bit of renovation to it. We have an auditorium that is in extremely hazardous shape and we have a gymnasium that is safe but only with major repairs. According to the experts, more than the cost of a new gymnasium.”
The auditorium shares a wall with the main structure. If the auditorium is removed, work will have to be done to the wall to repair it and a “weather-tight envelope” created in order to prevent further wood floor and wood floor joist deterioration.
“We have an auditorium that is being held up by an act of the Almighty, according to Peter, and a gymnasium,” said Smith.
An estimate from AEI placed demolition at $240,800. Securing the main building and protecting it from further damage would add an estimated $36,705 for a combined cost of $277,505.
Smith says the city could use salvagers who volunteer to haul off items for their value in an effort to reduce the cost of demolition.
“There has been talk that some of the citizens in Warren County would want some of the bricks,” said Smith. “As I understand, there are salvagers like Mr. (Mark) Latka used. There are people demolishing Powermatic free of cost, or that’s what I’ve been told, for the materials.”
Future plans for the cleared area could include the construction a new fire hall and allowing the city’s garage, which is located in the back of the existing fire hall, to use Fire Station 1.
“We have six acres there that we could move the fire hall to,” said Smith. “The current fire hall would be a good place for the garage workers.”
Ideas for the main building include using a portion of the building as a Police Department, a visitor’s center, or meeting rooms, as well as inviting the Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Development Board to move in, says Smith.
Neal says, given the cost of renovation outweighing the cost of building a new gymnasium and auditorium, he is in favor of removal.
“I think it would be irresponsible on our part to invest in anything other than demolition on the auditorium and gymnasium,” said Neal. “I think it would be in our best interest to try and save the front wing.”
Smith presented numbers during the meeting that would allow the city to combine the cost of the work with other capital improvement projects and fund the debt with sales tax recovery money obtained in the lawsuit with the county.
Documents for demolition, including the possibility of using salvagers, will be generated so the city can go out for bids on the work. The measure must be presented to the full board for its consideration.