A structural engineer hired to inspect water damage in the gymnasium at the James Willison Community Center (formerly Sistersville High School) in Sistersville says the repairs will not be covered by the City's insurance policy.
In the meantime, the gymnasium remains closed as a safety precaution.
Eric Hauser, a structural engineer with Rudick Forensic Engineering, Inc. in Youngstown, Ohio, met with City Commissioner Vance Ash this week to review the findings of an evaluation mandated by the insurance adjustor. "The engineer confirmed the damage is from water leaking from the outside." But because the damages have been attributed to years of neglect and not to a specific act of nature such as a storm or a flood, the City of Sistersville will be solely responsible for any costs incurred to repair the building.
The problem was brought to light during the January council meeting. At that time, Ash informed city officials that the gymnasium had been closed but was not condemned. As a result of the closure, all future tournaments, practices and events scheduled were cancelled. This significant loss of revenue is expected to negatively impact the center's budget.
"When you first walk into the school (the floor) has dropped 16 or 18 inches," Ash explained. "It has been going bad for the past couple of years but in the last three months, it's really bottomed out."
Although the repairs will be costly, Ash maintains the community center is not a lost cause. "We are exploring our funding options," he remarked.