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updated: 5/6/2014 12:34 AM

North Aurora to study options for tearing down activity center

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  • Village officials aren't going to spend any money to repair failing roof joists for the North Aurora Activity Center, which was shut March 12 over safety concerns.

      Village officials aren't going to spend any money to repair failing roof joists for the North Aurora Activity Center, which was shut March 12 over safety concerns.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer, March 2014


North Aurora trustees Monday said they don't want to spend any money fixing the North Aurora Activity Center, which has been closed since March 12 over safety concerns.

An insurance adjuster has estimated that repairing cracked joists enough would cost at least $103,000, and the building still wouldn't meet current building safety codes, according to a report presented Monday by village administrator Steven Bosco.

A structural engineer has estimated it would cost at least $219,000 to bring it fully up to code by also installing supports for the joists, removing cement plaster ceilings and installing new lighting and new electrical wiring for such lighting. The costs don't include engineering, environmental remediation, painting or temporary shoring of the roof, according to the report.

The engineer reported that of 15 joists tested, 11 were bearing loads beyond their capacity.

Public works superintendent Mike Glock noted cracked and bowed ceilings on the second floor in February, and an insurance adjuster inspected it March 7. The Share and Care Day-Care Center, a longtime tenant, was forced to close for several weeks while it found a new home elsewhere in the village. Other activities, including Friday night gatherings of middle school youth, were canceled.

The engineer said the joists failed in part due to bearing more weight than for what they were designed, including the weight of the roof and ceilings.

The extremely cold and snowy winter contributed, as snow on the roof didn't melt as it normally would have, increasing the load.

The building opened in 1931 as North Aurora Grade School. An addition was built in the 1960s. The joists examined are in the 1931 building.

Insurance will reimburse the village $69,000 for its loss, Bosco said.

When the village contemplated tearing the building down about five years ago, it estimated demolition would cost about $250,000, Bosco said.

Trustee Mark Gaffino, who attended school in the building, noted it has sentimental value.

"But I think the bad outweighs the good now," he said. Gaffino said the building's windows are bad, it has materials that contain asbestos, and that its boiler needs to be replaced. The roof is about 30 years old.

The building is also on what officials consider a prime piece of real estate for redevelopment at Route 31 and State Street. Village President Dale Berman said that perhaps a private developer would be willing to tear down the building, instead of the village having to pay to do so.

But Berman also said he doesn't want the empty building to sit there very long.

Gaffino and Trustee Mark Guethle also said they want the village to consider having a recreation center elsewhere in town. Gaffino suggested the village look at property north of the village hall, along the riverfront.

The village bought the building in the 1970s for its recreation department. The department disbanded in the 1990s, and the Fox Valley Park District rented it until 2005, when it opened the Vaughn Center in Aurora. The village spent $450,000 on the building in 1998 to make it accessible to people with disabilities. In 2003 the village board decided to make only minimal repairs until the building's fate was decided. Aurora Township assessor records place the building and land's value at about $87,000.

The North Aurora Activity Center Fund began the 2013 fiscal year, which ended April 30, with a reserve of $128,768.

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