Lindley Hall repair estimates brought forward

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Monday the Newton USD 373 Board of Education was given an estimate for the repair of the outer shell of Lindley Hall — and the board asked for more numbers as the group wrestles with what to do with the gymnasium constructed in 1934 that is currently in need of repair. 

A storm passed through Newton June 25 and 26, damaging Lindley Hall on North Poplar Street. The Newton USD 373 is grappling with the cost of repair to that damage, and structural issues found later.

Estimates are $1.5 million for fixing the outer shell of the building. That would not include any work to the interior, where the bleachers are pulling away from the walls which support them — issues found during a structural inspection following storm damage to the building this summer. 

"I wouldl ike to get some more estimates ... I would like to get those numbers from a couple of different groups," said Mallory Morton, president of the Board of Education.  "When it comes to costs for another structure, that is tricky, because we do not know what we want for that."

The distrct has two options at this time — repair the nearly 100 year old building that sits next to Santa Fe 5/6 Center (first constucted as a high school in 1914) or raze the building and construct a new facility. 

On June 25 of this year,  severe windstorm led to the collapse of part of the facade of the building — tearing the lettering "Historic Lindley Hall" off of the building. The building was immediately closed. It has not reopened, instead being fenced off to prevent pedestrian traffic around the building.  

With the building closed and in need of a repair, school district administration and insurance providers moved forward with structural analysis for the entire building. 

That report was finalized  Aug. 23. According to that report, outer walls of the building are bowing, and the bleachers inside the building — attached to those walls — are separating from their anchors. 

Repairs to the exterior walls of the building would include removing all of those walls, and reinstalling brick. At this time, there are places on the walls where bricks can be removed by hand as the mortar has washed and worn away over the years. 

"That lack of maintenance is not about the last few years, it is from since the building was built.," Van Rankin said. 

Brick ties that are designed to keep the bricks, and walls, against the trusses, have deteriorated. While the structural report found the inside of the building usable, with an execption. No one can be in the bleachers as they are separating from their supports. 

 The pickle the district finds themselves is not having liquid cash to make repairs. According to Van Ranken, it is likely the distruct would need to raise funds through a bond issue for work to the building. 

Attempting to do repair work only, using capital outlay budgets, would lead to a budget struggle. 

"It would come at a cost to everything else," Van Rankin said. "We would not buy any new busses or do anything like that."

For the most part, insurance will not cover much of the work. There could be a limited claim for damage done June 25 — when a portion of the facade collapsed during a wind storm. 

The cost of contrusction of a new facility is completely unknown, though the board of education would like to have some ideas as it evaluates what to do about the facility. 

The cost of razing the building is estimated at as much as $125,000. 

"I would ask what is the cost of a new gum, and what would it cost to add a couple of classrooms," Van Rankin said. "... Once you go down that road, we are looking at bond issue type stuff."