By Mike Phillips
The reports are in on a study of the costs of repairing the buildings in the Fernandina Beach Atlantic Recreation Center on Atlantic Avenue. The totals for four buildings range from $1,516,500 to $2,459,000.
The estimates were made last month by Kimley-Horn & Associates, a well-known engineering consultancy based in Jacksonville.
The big problem in the mix is the auditorium, whose west and south walls are highly unstable because the west wall has slipped several inches away from the foundation, creating major cracks. One result is a recommendation that the auditorium not be used in weather with winds higher than 25 miles per hour, which are quite common in our coastal environment.
The firm recommends this approach to repairs:
- Underpin the two walls.
- Then install crack monitoring equipment.
- When the walls have stabilized, repair the west wall façade.
- Seal cracks.
- Replace the upper and lower roofs.
- Clean and paint roof overhang supports.
- Replace remaining windows.
- Deal with depressed tiles in the entryway.
Total auditorium repairs: $1,255,500 to $1,941,00
And then, the firm recommends, budget to demolish the auditorium and replace it in two to four years.
Minus the repairs to the auditorium, repairs to the other buildings would run $261,000 to $518,000.
City commissioners have been discussing this issue for several years. Now they have numbers to guide them.
Clearly, the auditorium (which receives little use now) will be at the center of their discussions. Fix it now, then replace it soon at an even higher cost? Or just demolish it now and relegate it to Fernandina Beach memories?