Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, November 24, 1997

Winsted City Hall deemed structurally sound


According to engineers consulted by the city hall committee, Winsted City Hall is structurally sound.

This was reported to the Winsted City Council by the committee at Tuesday night's meeting.

Committee member Leonard Cochran told the council it is looking at five options and exploring one at a time. Presently, the committee is gathering facts on renovating the city hall building to continue using it for the city offices.

The other options the committee will look at are:

· demolishing the building and erecting a new structure on the same site;

· demolish the city hall, sell the property, and build a new structure at a different site;

· build a new city hall at a different site, and sell or find an alternate use for the existing building;

· modify the existing fire hall and use it for city offices.

Regarding the first option, Cochran said the city hall had been toured by five structural engineers: A. J. Lysne Contracting Corp. of Owatonna, I & S Engineers and Architects, Inc. of Mankato; Jerry Johnson, contractor, Delano; and A & E Engineering of Minneapolis.

After the tours, with little variation, the contractors were of the same opinion of the building.

Structurally, the only problem with the building is in the southeast corner, where a small foundation/footing area has settled. This can be repaired using methods that have been successful on other projects.

The wood floor joists supporting the floors have developed sags, which is common considering the age of the building. The joists have adequate strength and this is not a structural problem. A floor loading analysis would have to be done after determining the use of the upper floor of the building.

The basement can be used as occupied space with the addition of waterproofing and drainage.

The exterior brick needs extensive replacement and tuckpointing. The brick is soft but sound, and the engineers estimated it would last for at least 50 years. Unsound and spoiled brick needs to be replaced.

The culprit in the bricks' deterioration is freeze-thaw cycles in areas where snow melts and water has been allowed to flow down the face of the brick.

If the building is renovated, drainage of the roof must be a primary concern, they recommended.

In the basement, the walls should stay in place with the exception of passageways through the walls. On the upper floors, walls can be removed and steel beams installed.

Windows and doors would be replaced.

Council member Gary Lenz said the brick was tested seven years ago by Braun Engineering and the company determined the brick had a lifespan of 20-25 years.

Cochran said the committee would like another test of the brick for an updated analysis.

The tests were done in 1990 when the city first considered renovating the city hall. Lenz said they cost about $6,000.

Cochran told the council he has reviewed information provided by the city, but does not have the brick test or other tests to the building regarding its load bearing strength. Cochran said the committee needs the information to make an informed decision.

City Clerk Betty Zachmann said she has turned over everything she could find and would contact Braun, if needed, for copies of the test results.

The conversation turned to office and community space needs. It was the consensus of the council and the committee to include a community room when determining how much space is needed for an efficient city office.

The council also wants the city office, police department, and library together. Cochran said the committee would consider space needs, but would not become a design committee.

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