By Alex Bridges
Strasburg leaders on Wednesday chose to demolish the damaged town shop and build a new facility in its place.
Town Council held a special meeting at the Strasburg United Methodist Church to hear from staff about options for the building at the wastewater treatment plant. The town vacated the building several weeks ago after engineers found structural problems that raised safety concerns.
Council voted 7-1 to demolish the existing town shop building, rebuild the structure in or near the same area, and to direct staff to borrow an additional $300,000 from the Department of Environmental Quality's Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund. The amount would be included in the entire loan amount under the same terms that provide zero percent interest for 25 years. Councilman John Hall Jr. voted against the motion, saying the town should rehabilitate the building.
Director of Public Works Jay McKinley and Town Manager Judson Rex presented council with three options. Most council members, who toured the site this week said they agreed the building should be razed and replaced.
"We have a time-sensitive issue that we think requires direction of council," McKinley said.
As McKinley explained, English Construction, the firm hired by the town to build the plant upgrade, wants to begin excavation on the site behind the town shop within a week. McKinley said excavation would take place close to the shop. English Construction would also perform the demolition.
"They feel that the structure could be damaged by heavy equipment digging directly behind the structure," McKinley said. "This building definitely could impact the construction of our wastewater plant upgrade."
Strasburg officials had expected to reuse the building as part of the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project, for which the town planned to borrow up to $17 million. This would have saved the town approximately $477,000. Now the town must borrow an additional $240,000.
The three options were:
- Demolish the building and rebuild the structure for approximately $271,800. This option allows the town to save the existing metal storage building. The cost covers the necessary permits and utility disconnects. McKinley said this option removes the building quickly -- within about four weeks -- and replaces the storage space.
- Demolish and reuse the remaining 900-square-foot storage building at a cost of $113,400. However, McKinley explained that the town would need to buy more expensive pumps for the wastewater treatment plant upgrades because the storage building is not tall enough to house the planned equipment.
- Rehabilitate the existing town shop at a cost of $274,043. This option requires that the town make numerous improvements and repairs to the building that would take about six weeks. As McKinley explained, this option may also expose other building-code violations that the town would need to fix.
Staff members had recommended that council pick the option to demolish the existing structure and only reuse the metal building as maintenance and storage space for the treatment plant.
"I think rehabilitation's out," Councilman Donald Le Vine said. "It's not worth it and my worry is that if we just demolish it and leave it that it will come back to us, that we'd have to do something somewhere."
Councilman Rich Orndorff Jr. echoed Le Vine and warned of any violations not yet apparent.
"If you have something that's substandard, you have junk and you repair it or Band-Aid it, then you've just Band-Aided junk," Orndorff said.
McKinley noted that town officials already contact DEQ regarding the need for additional money for the project.
"They agreed that this is an unusual situation that's out of scope of the project," McKinley said.
DEQ denied an earlier request by town officials to add other wastewater-related projects to the zero percent loan, Rex said.
"So I think, you know, they showed some flexibility with that," Rex said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org