It’s nonsense that the Duluth Heights Community Center is “beyond its life cycle," as city of Duluth Property and Facilities Manager Erik Birkeland said in a Jan. 4 News Tribune story (“To raze or repair”). Site work is complete. Footings and the foundation are solid. You have a structure that needs updating, including a new roof. Hire an architect to prepare drawings and update the building for the next 60 years.
Birkeland also said, "The building’s worn out. It's not worth investing in, and it needs to come down eventually." Perhaps the city needs a fresh set of eyes and a new plan. Building a new, affordable, community-type building isn’t an option. How do you even define "affordable?" New construction isn’t “affordable.” Is money for a new building sitting in an account somewhere in City Hall?
The Duluth Heights Community Center hasn’t been adequately maintained for 60 years, according to the story. Whose fault is that? Build a new building, and the same thing will occur. It also won’t be adequately maintained. Government entities are famous for not maintaining buildings. Some things never change.
This building needs a new roof. So tear it down and build new? Duluth taxpayers better take second looks at their own houses before installing new roofs. For any house built before 1960, it might make sense to tear it down and build new?
I just completed an $80,000 roof replacement on a 60-year-old industrial building. It would have made no sense to demolish and build new. It wasn’t even a consideration. With a new roof and some updates, my building will be operable for decades to come.
I hope Duluth Heights is able to steer the ship in the proper direction so its existing community building can continue to serve.