Engineer recommends demolishing historic Nancy Reynolds
While two of the three main buildings on Nancy Reynolds Elementary School's campus are structurally sound, the original building on the property needs to be at least partially demolished.
That was the recommendation made Monday night to the Stokes County Board of Education by Jerry Moorefield, who completed a structural feasibility study of the property's buildings for the school system, as it prepares for what needs it may include in a possible referendum for school construction.
The buildings evaluated by Moorefield, a Stokes County structural engineer, were the gym, the cafeteria/shop building and the 1923 original structure and its 1931 wings, which are used as the main school building on the campus.
"Building three (the gym) and two (cafeteria) are more modern construction made of block and steel," Moorefield said. In his report to the school board, he noted that two buildings would only need a few modifications to come up to code requirements.
A chart that summarizes the stress ratio on various points of the original building and its wings shows that the building failed 13 of its 18 stress tests and the wings were marginal in two of their eight tests.
The two main places of concern were the classroom south of the auditorium and its corridor wall and the media center north of the auditorium and the corridor wall. "They are too overloaded," Moorefield told the school board. "I would consider them immediate concerns."
He explained that a 1.0 is an acceptable stress ration and anything above a 1.5 is a concern. The floor joist under the classroom sound of the auditorium had a ration of 3.01 and the floor joist under the media center of the auditorium was 4.29.
"There is a point where you say how much is too much, and we've reached that," Moorefield said. "In the 1931 building, the floor is sagging and bowing because it was probably put in green and dried after it was put in.
"We need some temporary repair to the supports of the auditorium for the short-term," he said.
The long-term solution was not as simple. In his study conclusion, Moorefield said of the educational building, "This portion of the building had numerous over stresses found in our evaluation. It appears that the service life of this particular portion of the building has been realized ... In regard to the wings, they appear to be constructed with a more methodical approach to load path and load transfer and we have found only marginal items in regard to the north and south wings that were constructed in 1931. However, we did observe that the floors are not level within these wings and due to the age of the structure and the condition of the floors, it would be difficult to renovate these two wings without a significant structural upgrade."
Moorefield offered three options to the school board to deal with the poor condition of the educational building:
*To tear down the existing building and build a new educational building, which he said "would be the most economical approach."
*To demolish the existing building and replace it with a replica of the original 1923 building. "This would be close economically to that of standard new construction," he said.
*To gut the original building and wings, but keep the outer walls and rebuild the new construction inside the original walls. "The 1931 wings may require slightly less modification, but this will depend upon final classroom size requirements. This method would likely cost a 25 to 35 percent premium over that of new construction square footage cost," Moorefield said.
The structural weakness of the building was not Moorefield's only concern. He also mentioned the small sizes of the classrooms, fire risks with an old wooden structure and several other items.
He also pointed out some type of excavated area that was discovered under the media center area when the evaluation was taking place. In pictures included in the study, Moorefield noted that a support pier had fallen and been replaced with rocks and another pier is on the edge of falling.
Also found during the evaluation were exposed electrical wires above the auditorium and in one of the wings. "With this school, you have to be very conscious with things like that," he said.
Interim Superintendent Nelson Jessup said the work to provide extra support of the auditorium needs to take place long before any bond referendum occurs, which the county commissioners are proposing for the November 2008 election.
Moorefield said someone in the past did make sure that the computer areas had temporary treated timbers and supports placed under them for added security.
"It is a structure that has probably exceeded its expected life," he said.
The engineer said that he will work with David Burge, director of operations for the school system, to see if the work is something the schools' maintenance employees can handle and to secure estimates on the work.
In addition to the soundness of the buildings, Moorefield said he did take a look at the retaining wall around the building, which has been an item of concern to residents of the Nancy Reynolds community.
"They've done a lot of work on the face that has caused water to sit in it, and it is leaning. The condition of it is very poor, and, when whatever is done to the school is done, it needs to be addressed. I think it's in the right of way and, if something is done, it needs to move back, which encroaches extremely on the yard area," he said. "The handrail doesn't meet current code. There are just a lot of issues there with the wall."