Those awaiting a decision on the fate of Galbreath Hall in West Jefferson will have to wait longer.
Members of the West Jefferson Village Council’s parks and recreation committee agreed Thursday to postpone their recommendation on whether to demolish the facility, a decision drawing frustration from the mayor.
The committee plans to gather more information and make a decision at its next meeting. A parks and recreation committee meeting has not been scheduled, but council will again address the issue at its regularly scheduled Sept. 2 meeting.
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.
Village officials have said demolishing the building would be the most reasonable decision to make, but officials with the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) have requested the village fix the building or donate it to their organization.
Council president Ron Garver said attorneys indicated the village would be held liable if an injury or accident were to occur after the building’s change of ownership.
But WJYAA officials said they received a differing opinion from an attorney.
WJYAA President John Stanley and Vice President Herman Stanley attended Thursday’s meeting. Though they did not have the opinion in writing, John Stanley said the attorney told him WJYAA could get all of the rights to the building and make repairs on it.
“We could fix this roof and do these other repairs,” he said.
John Stanley said he could provide the opinion in writing. Committee members urged him to get them the document before the next council meeting.
Parks and Recreation Director Dave Metzger said the push to demolish the building was nothing personal toward WJYAA, they just needed to follow regulatory procedures.
“I think we knew there were going to be some hard feelings from the beginning,” Metzger said. “I don’t think there’s a person on the council that hasn’t lost some sleep over what’s happened.”
After the recommendation to delay the decision was made, Mayor Darlene Steele said she did not agree with postponing a resolution. She said some of the new information could have been presented earlier in the process.
“[It’s been] six months and you’re just coming up with some of that stuff,” Steele said. “I understand that government moves slow, but I don’t think I’d put that off much longer.”
Steele also said the village has seen enough of the argument.
“I think the emotional stress on this town that’s already occurred because of that building is bad,” Steele said.
The finance committee met Wednesday to select a contractor to tear down Galbreath Hall, pending the recommendation of the parks and recreation committee.
Master Renovations placed the lowest bid for $18,000, beating seven other contractors with bids ranging up to $140,000.
If the committee would have made a decision Thursday, the resolution or recommendation would have likely been voted on at the following full council meeting.
Brandon Semler can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or via Twitter @BrandonSemler.