By Blake Spurney
NEWTON – Historical Lindley Hall has severe structural damage related to years of deterioration, water seepage and an Aug. 4 windstorm, according to structural engineering investigation.
“The area around the exterior of the building needs to be isolated from occupants until modifications, access tunnels/structures, and/or safety measures to the exterior of the building can be completed,” engineer Scott A. Mauler wrote in his conclusions and recommendations.
Furthermore, the building, which was constructed in 1934, may have more extensive problems lying underneath the visibly damaged areas. Mauler noted that additional damage to structural elements may become apparent after damaged portions of the building are removed.
A cursory review of the exterior masonry was conducted July 13 and an additional field investigation on the interior of the building was done Aug. 9. Mauler noted that the masonry wall had “extreme deterioration present in the mortar and wall ties as a result of prolonged moisture penetration causing a decreased structural capacity of the mason wall.” A majority of the parapets had locations of loose veneer, deteriorated brick and mortar and indications of water infiltration into the masonry construction.
“Although the lower portions of the masonry walls appeared to be in better shape than the parapets, similar deterioration is present,” his report states. Walls at the north and south corners of the gymnasium have a visible outward bow, and the bleachers are separating from the wall.
“In addition to the masonry wall concerns, water was present in the basement below the stage, and a few areas of concrete and wood roof framing is deteriorated in isolated areas,” the report states
Superintendent Fred Van Ranken told the USD-373 Board of Education in August that Lindley Hall would either have to be razed or replaced. He said he wouldn’t be comfortable allowing students to use the gymnasium floor. He estimated the cost of replacing the building as between $2 million-$4 million, while repairing it is expected to cost between $1.5 million-$2.5 million.
Mauler noted that the exterior around the building needed to be isolated from occupants until modifications and safety measures could be completed. He also noted that the interior access to the facility should be omitted or limited in the bleacher seats.
“The building should be unoccupied and isolated from the public after this school year unless an additional review of the existing condition by a licensed structural engineer deems additional time is acceptable,” his report states.
Mauler noted that lower gymnasium floor only should be used with caution and that it should remain unoccupied during inclement weather. He recommended frequent monitoring of the wall related to the cracks.
“Further, safe access to the building will need to be provided for the event of exterior falling debris in isolated locations,” he wrote.
School board members have not yet had an opportunity to recommend what should be done with Lindley Hall. They received the structural engineering report late last week. Mauler noted that any rehabilitation of the structure would have to meet updated building code requirements.