A recently released report outlining the numerous deficiencies of the old Homer Middle School – or HERC – building says the City of Homer would do just as well to tear it down as try to renovate the aging structure. The report could spell trouble for the HERC building’s only occupant – the Homer Boys and Girls Club.
The seven-page report, conducted by Kenai-based Klauder and Company Architects, was sent to the City of Homer Monday. The report is the result of a survey of the HERC building performed by the company December 4th and for city officials who may have been hoping to someday renovate the HERC building and expand its use, it’s not pretty.
The aging building is not up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the report says, and will need several improvements – some of them quite expensive – to bring it into compliance and up to modern codes.
Among the needed improvements are modifications to the kitchen, the replacement of several doors and windows, expansion and addition of restroom facilities and a new sprinkler system in the gymnasium.
The total cost for all of the improvements? About $10 million.
In a committee meeting Monday, Homer Mayor Beth Wythe told the city council and City Manager Walt Wrede that she took the report very seriously and thought it could have serious implications concerning the future use of the building by the Homer Boys and Girls Club.
"Based on the information that we have been provided here, we are using the facility outside its existing coded and authorized use ... to the extent that authorizing the continued use of that facility by the Boys and Girls Club, should anything happen, places us in very grave liability," said Wythe.
Wythe asked Wrede to consult with the state fire marshal to ensure that the building is within the guidelines for use by the Boys and Girls Club.
Public Works Director Carey Meyer agreed with the summary of the report, which says “the cost of a complete renovation of this building will most likely be the same cost per square foot for construction of a new building.”
"Bringing the building up to code still leaves you with an old, energy inefficient building," said Meyer.
Meyer said that based on a report of the adjacent old Homer Elementary School building, it’s likely that demolition of the HERC building would be complicated by the existence of asbestos and lead-based paint.
So in the long term, a complete renovation appears to be economically unfeasible. But in the short term – what does the report mean for the Homer Boys and Girls Club?
That subject came up at Monday’s regular meeting of the Homer City Council, when council members were faced with a resolution authorizing a one-year lease extension for the club for 2013.
The council approved the resolution unanimously but not before inserting a requirement for Wrede to get approval from the fire marshal first.
The Boys and Girls Club’s current lease expires December 31st.