Old YMCA building deemed hazardous by independent engineer

Published 7:54 pm Monday, December 21, 2009

SELMA — An independent engineering firm has released its report on the old YMCA building on Broad Street and deemed it “in its present condition… unsafe and in danger of collapse.”

A 29-page report written by Danny P. Raines, an engineer for Weatherford Associates of Montgomery points out the dangers of the building as its stands now and the possibilities of recovering the structure.

The building was called into question by owner Tom Bolton. He appeared before the Selma City Council earlier in the month, raising concerns that the structure would collapse at any time.

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Bolton approached the City of Selma Historical Commission about razing the building. The commission asked for the independent review.

Raines writes in the document obtained by The Selma Times-Journal Monday, “It is our professional engineering opinion that the structure, in its present condition, is unsafe and in danger of collapse. The failure of the roof and floor in the center and east end of the structure has left the exterior masonry walls unbraced. In their current unbraced condition, these walls are subject to possible sudden failure.”

The report continues to say three of the perimeter masonry walls — north, south and east — could be salvaged, but the work will involve temporary shoring and careful demolition of the existing floor, roof and interior wall framing and permanent shoring of the remaining walls.

Patty Sexton, historic preservation and revitalization coordinator for the city, said the commission had received the report and had called a special meeting for 4 p.m., Dec. 29, for its consideration.

Sexton said the commission’s decision will be sent in a letter to Bolton by Jan. 4, as called for in the city ordinance.

Officials with the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission also have received copies of the report and a similar report by Bolton’s own engineer released earlier this month.

The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation wants the facade of the structure preserved, according to Raines.

“While it is our professional engineering opinion that this is possible, it must be understood that the work will be hazardous and the possibility of collapse of the walls during interior framing demolition and perimeter wall shoring process exists,” the report states.

Bolton responded to the report, saying, “The Historical Commission is reviewing the document and has called a meeting on the 29th to make a ruling on my request.

Until then I cannot do anything. My goal remains the same — to render the site safe by demolition as soon as possible and permitted by the authorities. Once the site can be considered safe then we will begin to look for development opportunities. We have no current plans at this time.”

The report said to demolish the roof, interior floors and walls, west exterior wall, shore up the north, south and east exterior walls with framing that later could be used as a structure for a new floor and roof would cost about $630,000.

But the report also offered a caveat on the price tag, “This estimate is based upon limited information and is intended to aid the reader understanding the magnitude of the cost only and is not intended as a proposal or final estimate.”