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Demolish, not rehab

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Grubaugh changes plans for Twisters

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Just a couple of weeks after Dennis Grubaugh’s request for funding assistance for significant repairs to the former Twisters entertainment facility was put on hold, Grubaugh said he is now planning different action.
Grubaugh told the Vandalia City Council that based on his re-evaluation of the structure and concerns voiced by a number of local residents, he has decided to demolish the existing building and construct a new one.
At their May 19 meeting, aldermen tabled a recommendation from the city’s Tax Increment Financing advisory committee for a $75,000 grant toward the replacement of the Twisters roof, estimated to cost about $260,000.
Aldermen said they would like more information verifying the safety of the structure and Grubaugh’s financing for the roof replacement.
On Monday night, Grubaugh said he’s had a change of heart.
“That project kind of blew up in my face on trying to fix the roof at the last (council) meeting,” Grubaugh said.
“I can’t certify that the roof can be made safe, the building can be made safe,” he said.
At the May 19 meeting, Grubaugh told aldermen he would provide an engineer’s assessment of the building. Monday night, he told aldermen that he had taken another look at that report.
“What they can see appears to be structurally sound,” he said. But, Grubaugh said, “I don’t know for sure it is.
“I kind of gathered at the last meeting that a lot of you on the council were concerned about whether the actual building is sound or not.
“And I do not know for sure it is, and I can’t stand here and tell you it is, because I have no way of knowing what’s underground, either,” Grubaugh said.
He said that while cutting off roof panels recently, they “found a spot on the foundation that you could stick your hand under.
“In a lot of ways, it’s probably best to take it down,” he said.
“We would be interested in getting the city’s consideration to demolish the building and build a structure that would be properly inspected and properly built, for the same facility we were talking about,” he said.
At the May meeting, Grubaugh said his plans are to put up a post-frame building that would serve as an entertainment facility for youth.
“I’m kind of at a loss for what else to do,” he said. “I’m open to suggestions and ideas.”
Grubaugh said he knows that some residents don’t feel the existing building is safe.
“I hear it all the time, and I tried to get past it and tell myself that I could make the building viable. I don’t believe that I could,” he said.
“I had hoped to save it – I hate to see any building come down that can be salvaged,” Grubaugh said. “But, at the same time, I want to be realistic.
“I’m just trying to do something for Vandalia and something that hopefully someday will make a buck for me,” he said.
Those aldermen who spoke on Grubaugh’s change in plans supported his decision.
“I think you’re going the right way,” Alderman B. John Clark said.
Alderman Andy Lester added, “That sounds like a better plan.”
Lester, who asked Grubaugh at the May meeting whether he had secured private funding for the roof replacement, asked on Tuesday whether he can get funding help for his revised plans.
Grubaugh said that he has been told that “within reason, they would back a project.”
Mayor Rick Gottman asked Grubaugh if he knew how much it would cost to demolish the existing structure, and Grubaugh said he’s in the process of drawing up specs for the work, with plans to contact several firms to get estimates.
Gottman suggested that once he has his plans firmed up, he meet again with the TIF advisory committee.