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W’bago council looks at new draft of school building sale

By Staff | Dec 16, 2018

The purchase of the former Winnebago School by the city of Winnebago is still on hold but the number of issues to be addressed before the papers are signed is decreasing.

Members of the Winnebago City Council attended the Blue Earth Area School Board meeting on Monday night, Dec. 10, one day before holding their regularly scheduled council meeting. The School Board conveyed a couple of concerns about some wording in the agreement while stressing they remained in favor of selling the property to the city of Winnebago.

The City Council had a new draft of a purchase and sale agreement ready for their meeting Tuesday night. The two major issues were addressed in the revised agreement.

A closing date of Nov. 1, 2019, replaced the former date of June 30, 2019, which took care of the first issue. The language was also changed to protect the Southern Plains Education Cooperative (SPEC) from being forced to vacate the Winnebago facility if SPEC is unable to move into their new location by their target date. The closing date can be extended up to 240 days past the Nov. 1, 2019 closing date.

An architect, Dana Hlebichuk, from the Rochester firm of Widseth, Smith and Nolting, spoke to the council concerning the condition of the former Winnebago School.

“Overall, the buildings are in satisfactory condition,” Hlebichuk stated. The original school was built in 1923 with a substantial addition added in 1953.

“You can easily get another 50 years out of the original building if it is just maintained a little bit on the exterior shelf,” Hlebichuk added.

Many of the concerns dealt with stopping water penetration into the walls.

“The first thing I would address would be the cap or coping of the older building as well as tuckpointing the building,” Hlebichuk said. “That is my biggest concern right now because when you have water entering the wall at the top, it is getting into the wall system.”

According to Hlebichuk’s report, the structural condition of both the 1923 and 1953 buildings is good. The structures do not show signs of stress, cracking, sloping floors or other deterioration of this nature.

Other items that will need to be dealt with include installing new fire rated doors between the buildings, updating the ventilation units and possible maintenance or replacement of the lift in the 1923 building.

One potential area of weakness is seen in the roof above the existing locker rooms in the 1953 addition. The roof ballast is washed out and organic growth is visible. The ceiling shows water penetration but does not show signs of failure. The roof over the locker rooms should be replaced as scheduled in 2020, the report concluded.

“As long as the maintenance schedule is followed, the roofs will be okay,” Hlebichuk noted. “Just stay on that schedule and you will be fine.”

The moisture and mold issued identified in the existing boy’s locker room raised a concern with the council members over who will pay for the cost of dealing with the mold. The Blue Earth Area School Board will be contacted to clarify this issue.