BRIGHTON — Discussion on what should be done with the city’s former senior center began at its Aug. 27 study session.
Council members heard about the state of the building and repairs that would have to be made that were discovered as part of an improvement assessment study.
“Generally, the building is in good condition,” said architect Bret Johnson.
The building was originally constructed for municipal use in 1919 and was used as the library from 1946 to 1972. It became the senior center in 1976, and the addition was constructed in 1986.
Johnson said there weren’t any serious structural issues with the building although there were some maintenance issues. He said the floor tiles in the original building contain asbestos and that there is some lead-based paint in the building. He also suggested that the building be brought up to code, as the elevator, restrooms and doors are not compliant with the American Disabilities Act. Those repairs could cost $30,000 to $45,000 depending on the user.
According to Johnson, it would cost about $30,000 to repair critical deficiencies, about $174,000 to repair serious deficiencies and about $128,250 to repair minor deficiencies. Capital renewal repairs are estimated at $287,000 and the ongoing maintenance cost for the center is $42,000. If the 1986 addition were removed, it would cost approximately $310,000.
Councilman J.W. Edwards was concerned about the financial obligation of taking on such a project. He asked where the project fit in in terms of council’s priorities and asked if there was a better project the city could save/spend its money on. He said that “old” doesn’t necessarily mean “historic.”
“I have a huge concern about spending money in a tight economy at this point in time to restore an old building,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Scott was adamant the building be saved due to its historical value.
“We don’t have that many (historic) buildings left here, unfortunately,” he said. “Either fire or demolition has taken care of our historic buildings.”
Councilman Chris Maslanik believes the building has significant historical value and suggested putting short-term money into it until the city could find a use for it.
Councilwoman Wilma Rose agreed its a useful building and said there’s a lot of ways the city could use it. She said it could be used for arts and cultural groups or for receptions but cautioned that removing the addition would limit the building’s use.
“I believe the reuse of buildings is called sustainability and that is part of what we are charged to do and to me, that would be a perfect example of how we do that,” and suggested funding repairs as needed on an annual basis.
Mayor Dick McLean was torn about what should be done with the building, and suggested the building be used as a hybrid, where they could restore the 1919 portion of the building but retain the addition. He said it could be done in steps.
After an hour of discussion, council decided it would like to hear input from the Brighton Historic Preservation Commission, which report back to council at a future meeting.