Lindley Hall will remain closed when school begins

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Construction of a temporary sidewalk designed to give students at Santa Fe 5/6 Center access to the building from Seventh Street, without using the  currently closed sidewalk in front of Lindley Hall, began Aug. 5.

Work to repair Lindley Hall after a June 25 storm caused the collapse of part of the building facade over the main entrances has been slow — and the building will not be open before school starts Aug. 12. 

That process has been slow as school adminstration has worked with insurance providers to have the building inspected for safety. 

"Right now, what we are doing, we are having a building inspector come out and inspect the building to make sure it is safe, and we do not have that report back yet," said Superintendent Fred Van Ranken.  "I also want an inspection of the building interior as well. They will be here on Monday. Once I get those reports are complete, we will go from there."

This week Harvey County learned that state disaster thresholds were not met, meaning there will not be federal funds available to assist with, or reimburse, storm repair and cleanup. The city of Newton cleanup effort to haul away downed tree limbs lasted weeks. 

Lindley Hall was built in 1934, used both as a gym and as an auditorium. The building’s stage was sealed in 1999 for use as a storm shelter for the Santa Fe Middle School campus.

Repair work to Lindley Hall  on N. Poplar Street has been slow, and the building will not be open when school begins Aug. 12.

"That building is not new. This may be something that we may have been able to divert something really catastrophic later on," Van Ranken said. 

In the meantime, however, the school district is scrambling to find facilities for physical education and making changes to student drop off and pickup to avoid the sidewalk in front of Lindley Hall. 

A temporary sidewalk, which could be installed this weekend, will allow for student access via Seventh Street using the doors to the cafeteria. There will be more fencing around Lindley Hall installed, to the east of the building. 

For physical education classes, the district is looking at how to relocate some activities. 

"They will do as much as they can outdoors and use as much of the greenspace as they can," Van Ranken said. "...  There are a couple of classrooms we can use. ... We have contacted the rec commission. We have some options. None of them are great, but no one asked us. We were not given the choice." 

Van Ranken told the Kansan that Lindley Hall will not reopen until all inspections are completed and engineers have signed off on the safety of the building.