Shelbyville Daily Union

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October 25, 2013

Council approves engineering study for Chautauqua

The Shelbyville Chautauqua building may still get a chance at a new life as the City Council agreed Monday evening to hire an engineering firm to assess the project.

The council agreed to have BWC, a Decatur engineering firm, begin the first two of a 4-phase plan which includes measuring everything, making recommendations of what should be done and giving an estimate. Estimated cost of the phases is $38,000, which was suggested to be paid from the $150,000 already raised by the Chautauqua committee. BWC has experience in these types of buildings, having worked on the Firestone building in Decatur.

"With Phases 1 and 2 we will have a better idea and make a better decision (about the building)," said Mayor Jeff Johnson.

Former Chautauqua committee chairman Wayne Gray, told the council that steps need to be taken now to shore up the building to reduce the risk of collapse during the winter months.

The 110-year-old building suffered a partial roof collapse during the late 1970s and temporary repair work was done at that time. Now the replaced beam is twisting, threatening another collapse. Because of the threat, liability insurance on the Chautauqua has been cancelled and the structure has been closed to further use.

"The City should consider that as new damage and consider that it should be handled outside of funds raised by the Chautauqua committee," Gray said, suggesting that the City foot the expenses of shoring the beam.

A sub-committee of the former Chautauqua committee is currently developing a business plan for the building's usage and financial support.

"We will look at the business plan and determine from there if tax money should be used," said Johnson.

"A decision needs to be made soon," Gray answered back. "We've waited nine months since the decision to possible tear down the building. We've done nothing as a city. Things have not gotten better, but it's probably in worse condition than it was when it was shut down."

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