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Old Sherwood machine shop is coming down

Failure of a major truss forces city to build a new community center


by: FILE PHOTO BY RAY PITZ - The city will immediately begin shoring up the former Machine Works building in Old Town in preparation of tearing in down in the next two months.The building that stands on land that will be the future home of the new Sherwood Community Center is slated for destruction.

The city’s Urban Renewal Agency, effectively the members of the Sherwood City Council, on Dec. 11 moved forward with a plan to tear down the structure upon the discovery that one of six major trusses was structurally unsound.

Meanwhile, plans are to immediately shore up the former machine shop, a process expected to cost between $36,000 to $45,000, to ensure the structure won’t fall down before it’s torn down. The structure was originally constructed with concrete tilt-up walls,

About four weeks ago, city officials discovered structural damage to one of the wooden bow trusses in the building during a tour of the facility.

“We immediately got that truss shored up,” said City Manager Joe Gall. “A building official did declare the building was dangerous.”

The trusses are 45 to 50 years old and have a life expectancy of half a century, officials said.

“Right now we have a safety issue,” Gall said. “I’d like to be able to demolish the building tomorrow.”

Tearing down and rebuilding would add an estimated $600,000 to the final price tag of the center. Assistant City Manager Tom Pessemier said remodeling would cost an estimated $6.3 million compared to $6.9 million for a new structure. New design plans will have to be drawn up as well for the building that is expected to contain a 400-seat theater and retail space with rents going to offset the cost of the center.

During a work session prior to the council meeting, Councilor Bill Butterfield, a liaison for the community center advocacy group making recommendations for the project, said the reason for keeping the shell of the older building was to retain an architectural value of having “an older, cooler look.” From the beginning, Butterfield was in favor of taking down the machine shop, whose tenants have since moved to a new site in Canby.

“Some engineers think those bow trusses are as strong as Superman,” Butterfield pointed out.

However, as far as the old structure having some type of nostalgic or architectural value, Gall noted that his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook with people saying, “Save the building, save the building.”

Butterfield said he had concerns about spending as much as $50,000 to shore up the building only to tear it down, a sentiment echoed by Councilor Dave Grant who said many residents are going to ask, “What did that screw-up cost us?”

However, Gall said it was necessary to take down the building as soon as possible, noting that it will still be several months before it can be completely demolished. Even before that, asbestos found in the structure will have to be removed, he said.

Councilor Robyn Folsom, a longtime advocate for the arts and supporter of the community center, said she appreciated the fact Butterfield and Pessemier discovered the building was failing before major remodeling was undertaken.

“This is a project I want the citizens to know we are going to do right,” she said.

Until it can be demolished, a security fence will keep residents away from the building, Gall said.