Firm recommends demolishing Veterans Memorial Hall

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2011

Based on an inspection of the 100-plus year old building, the city’s contracted engineering firm is recommending that it demolish Veterans Memorial Hall.

The city’s contracted engineering firm, E.L. Robinson Engineering, did an evaluation of the structure in late April. The results of the inspection were presented to the Ironton City Council during Thursday’s meeting.

“It is our recommendation that the city demolish the building, so that further deterioration does not add to the risk of the building collapsing on the city streets and possibly causing a very serious accident or fatality,” the report says.

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According to the structural evaluation of the building, rehabilitating the structure would cost approximately $7.7 million, compared to $250,000 to demolish it.

The city ordered the evaluation after a local organization gave up efforts at restoring the building. The city had planned to transfer the property to the Ironton Port Authority, which would then transfer it to the Veterans Memorial Hall Restoration Fund if it could raise the first half million dollars toward the restoration efforts.

A $2.4 million grant that the group hoped to receive from the federal government fell through, one of the fund’s trustees, Tom McClain, told The Tribune in April.

Council members Kevin Waldo and Mike Lutz recommended taking steps toward demolishing the building out of concern for safety during a meeting of the finance and public utilities in April.

During the inspection, Patrick Leighty of E.L. Robinson used the fire department’s ladder truck to inspect the building because the roof had been removed in 2008, the report said.

The building is not included on any historic registry that can be found, the report states.

According to the report, some of the problems with the building, which was built in 1892, include crevices around the building’s masonry. Water can get into the interior and exterior masonry walls and can potentially freeze and cause structural damage. Growing vegetation, too, can cause further structural damage.

The report also states that water damage has been observed on the interior of the building. To prevent walls from falling inward when the roof was removed, a support structure had been installed to the top of the structure, the report states.

The report also recommends that the city consider saving some of the plaques and decorative masonry and constructing a memorial park with green space to display the items.

The work could be done in conjunction with the demolition, the report states.

Mayor Rich Blankenship requested a joint meeting of the public utilities and finance committee to talk about the project.

“I think there’s a lot on this project that we need to discuss,” Mayor Rich Blankenship told council Thursday evening. “First finances, secondly what exactly you want to save — the stones and things of that nature.”