The Adams Memorial Building will receive a makeover in the near future, so it can continue to host entertainment events and provide a home for agencies that serve the community.
Mike Fowler, Director of Public Works, appeared at the Jan. 7 Town Council meeting to discuss a recent review of the building’s structural needs.
The building houses the Derry Arts Council and is rented to various groups for performances. It also houses the offices of the Greater Derry/Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, the Derry Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and the Derry Historical Museum.
Fowler said a structural review of the building was initiated on Sept. 13, with $30,000 budgeted for the project, which included looking primarily at the upper floor that houses the theater. The structural review is now 95 percent complete, Fowler said.
The engineering firm engaged by the town reported over-stressing on several beams, Fowler said. Following this, it was determined to close the balcony in the theater.
The engineers also recommended reducing the load on the roof, in particular a section of tar and gravel that could not support the load. It was recommended to remove the tar-and-gravel and replace it with rubber, and to revamp an existing section of rubber roof, Fowler said.
Some trusses and beams need to be brought up to code, Fowler said. “They are overstressed by 200 percent,” he said, adding that the stage floor also needs reinforcement of its joists.
And if they’re going to rip up the roof, Fowler said, it “makes sense” to replace the insulation before they put the new roof on. “If we put in R-19 to R-21 rigid insulation, we will see major energy savings,” he said.
The hired engineers gave Fowler a “ballpark estimate” of $125,000 to $150,000 for the repairs. He said he is planning to talk with a contractor for a “more refined” estimate.
Using some in-house labor will reduce the cost, Fowler added.
“Our goal,” he said, “is to bring something forward for the FY 15 budget and to begin soliciting bids in May 2014.”
Fowler emphasized that the repairs are needed in the roof and theater areas. The lower areas, including the Chamber, Redevelopment and Historical offices, are in good shape, he said.
Council member Neil Wetherbee asked if closing the balcony had reduced the theater’s capacity for guests.
It has reduced it by about 100 people, Fowler said. The total capacity for the theater is 350 to 375, and it’s currently 275 without the balcony, he said.
“We had discussions with the Arts Council and they’re working around it, although of course they’d like to have it at full capacity,” Fowler said.
Chairman Michael Fairbanks said he had been in the theater recently and noticed a need for interior painting. “Who’s responsible for that, the town or the Arts Council?” he asked.
Fowler said in the past, the Arts Council had done some interior painting on its own. “I’ll have to research that,” he said, adding, “I’m not sure there’s been a delineation.”