Letter Points Out Concerns In Renovating Hoosier Desk Building

Possible reconfiguration of the Hoosier Desk building as proposed by Gamble Associates of Boston, Massachusetts

Possible reconfiguration of the Hoosier Desk building as proposed by Gamble Associates of Boston, MA

JASPER (NNDC) – A letter sent by Ferdinand-based Universal Design to Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz, the Jasper Library Board and the Jasper Arts Commission points out several concerns Universal has at this time of renovating the former Hoosier Desk building.

The building at Third & Mill streets, is being considered for new city library and arts center. The building has attracted a lot of attention in the last year.

In the letter, Universal says it would be unethical for them to provide any design work without informing all parties of concerns Universal has discovered since a walkthrough of the building back in January with members of both boards as well as city officials and representatives of Louisville-based city visions and Gamble Associates out of Boston.

Universal says before any engineering and architectural studies of the building is done, it is recommending further study into the feasibility of renovating of the building be done first.

Some of the concerns stated in the Universal letter include leaning exterior walls, cracks in exterior walls, deteriorated brick mortar joints, unlevel cracked concrete floors installed over improperly compacted soil, makeshift columns in the building (which are logs), out of plumb columns, bowing trusses with multiple attempts to repair and reinforce them, and severely unlevel wood floors.

Universal also says in addition to the structural issues, the age of the building raises several environmental, health and safety concerns.

Univeral is inviting many of the same people that were part of the January walkthrough to conduct another walkthrough so it can point out these concerns before proceeding with the planned engineering and architectural studies which have a price tag of about $120,000.

In a memo responding to the Universal letter, Barry Alberts of CityVisions says, “To determine the feasibility of such a project, all of the factors cited regarding the property’s physical rehabilitation, including structural, environment conditions, etc., must be considered. However, determining the extent of these issues, as well as their costs, by itself does not provide an answer to the question of feasibility, nor does it relate to whether “the building is worth the investment.”

Albert also writes, “all of the building conditions that are listed in the letter are those that must be assessed as part of the due diligence process. To imply that anyone involved has suggested that repurposing the Hoosier Desk property as envisioned would merely require “simple aesthetic modifications” is ridiculous, and frankly insulting to all those who have been spent time on this concept.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Seitz says the opinions offered by both Universal Design and CityVisions is part of the needed and on-going process in determining if renovating the Hoosier Desk building is best for both a new library and arts center for the city.

The library board has said it wants renovation plans for the Hoosier Desk building completed by this May 1st, so the board could meet deadlines for a potential referendum by May of 2016.

CLICK HERE for the Universal Design letter referred to in this story.

CLICK HERE for the complete memo from Barry Alberts of CityVisions in response to the Universal Design letter.

CLICK HERE to see possible reconfigurations of the Hoosier Desk building as proposed by Gamble Associates of Boston, Massachusetts; one of the two consulting firms hired by the city in crafting a new Downtown/Riverfront Master Plan for the city.

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