Structural weaknesses prompt swift relocation

The Troutdale City Council gave staff the go-ahead to find a new location for city operations, following a report that the current City Hall is in great need of repair and that the roof might not be able to handle a heavy snowfall.

BBL Architects of Lake Oswego studied the 1923 building and found that it is fraught with a number of problems from top to bottom. Doug Pruitt of BBL Architects told the City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to vacate the building as soon as possible because of the risk of liability.

The city has already closed off the council chambers room, and employees have moved out of the upper floors of the building. The City Council will now hold its meetings in the City Conference Building on Buxton Avenue.

City Administrator Craig Ward said he is working to find a space in downtown Troutdale for city staff over the next couple years while city officials come up with a plan for City Hall.

Ward said he needs a 5,000-square-foot space to replace the office functions at City Hall. Since there are few downtown buildings that have that much space, he said city operations would likely be done at two locations.

Ward hopes to bring the terms of a lease to the City Council for consideration at its next meeting.

According to BBL Architects' report, the roof's trusses and the beams above the council chambers room are overstressed and would not be able to handle a heavy snow, which could lead to a partial collapse of the roof. Pruitt noted the building would not be a safe place during a high wind.

The report estimated it would cost about $65,000 to reinforce the roof trusses above Council Chambers to prevent collapse.

The City Council has had to hold its meetings in front of the council dais, as scaffolding supports the weakened beams above the dais.

The building's foundation is also settling, creating problems for the council chambers floor and other areas of the building such as the walls and doors.

If the city were to go ahead with repairing the building, city staff would have to move to another space during construction.

The City Council could also decide to sell the building and either build a new city hall or purchase another building.

The current City Hall has an assessed value of about $254,000.

Weather forecasters are predicting that snow may fall in Portland and the Willamette Valley over the weekend.

Ward said there are plans for an alternate city hall if something were to happen to the current City Hall building.

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