West Jefferson officials on Wednesday selected a contractor to tear down Galbreath Hall, should another committee of officials make the final decision to move forward with recommending its demolition.
Master Renovations placed the lowest bid for $18,000, beating seven other contractors with bids ranging up to $240,000.
The bids were opened during a meeting of the West Jefferson Village Council’s finance committee. The village council’s parks and recreation committee will meet Thursday morning to decide the building’s final fate.
Public Service Director Dave Metzger said he ran background checks on the three lowest bidders.
The hall’s future has been discussed in several heated council meetings throughout the year since the building’s closure. It was deemed unsafe for public occupation in March by an independent structural engineer.
Galbreath Hall had been used by the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) to hold some of its events, as well as to store equipment before the building was declared unsafe. The group has been requesting the village repair the building or donate the building to the organization.
Council president Ron Garver said the village is currently forced to pay insurance, utilities and gas for the building. The village has paid as much as $1,100 per month in the winter, he added.
“If we keep it and it can’t be used, to me, we’re wasting the taxpayers’ dollars,” Garver said.
Garver said the current questions in need of answering were twofold: Should it be demolished? Should it be sold?
Garver said that if the village was able to sell the building, it would likely be liable for any injuries or accidents that might occur after.
“We would still be responsible if someone were to go in there and something were to happen,” Garver said.
WJYAA President John Stanley attended the meeting and said he knew someone who could do the repairs affordably.
“I have someone lined up to fix the major part of that building,” Stanley said.
Garver said that the village could not give the building away, or let an outside source fix the repairs, because of government regulations.
He expressed doubt with the WJYAA’s ability to fund the project.
“Where in the world would youth athletic come up with that kind of money?” Garver asked Stanley.
Stanley said the organization did not have the money, but possibly had donors who could assist.
Brandon Semler can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.