Quandry grows regarding future of former AMPI facility

The Hillsboro City Council likely set at least a portion of the city-owned AMPI building on a path to demolition when it decided at its Aug. 17 meeting that it is too costly to repair sections of the roof that are now leaking.

At the council?s July 20 meeting, City Administrator Larry Paine had presented an estimate of just under $50,000 from Wray Roofing of Newton to repair two sections of the roof in the middle of the expansive facility.

At the request of the council, Paine secured a second estimate from Larry Boozer Roofing of Wichita and presented it Aug. 17: about $97,000.

Even with the lower estimate from Wray Roofing, Paine had projected the payback period for the city to be 8.25 years.

?I?m still not excited about putting that amount of money in a building that?s in the shape it?s in,? Paine said at Tuesday?s meeting

He referred to an engineer?s evaluation that questioned the structural integrity of the middle section, which is multi-storied and includes a basement. Paine said the engineer had recommended that forklifts not drive across the floor anymore.

That area of the building currently is leased to Golden Heri?tage Foods, Hillsboro, for storage.

Paine emphasized that the west area of the building, which houses the Hillsboro Police Department, and the east section, which is home to the Butler Community College welding center, are structurally sound.

Council members Kevin Suderman, Bob Watson and Byron McCarty also questioned the wisdom of making a significant financial investment in the middle part of the facility.

Paine nodded when Suder?man said a decision not to repair the roof would be a decision to get rid of that part of the facility because of inevitable deterioration.

But Paine added, ?We can?t afford to tear down the building right now.?

Suderman said the city may not have the option to delay demolition for long.

?If we don?t want blighted property in the community, we sure don?t want to own any ourselves,? he said.

?This will be a continuing issue for us,? Paine acknowledged.

In the meantime, Mayor Delores Dalke asked Paine to inform Golden Heritage Foods of the council?s decision as soon as possible.

?We shouldn?t be renting that space to someone who runs a forklift on it,? she said.

Already at the July 20 meeting, the mayor had suggested the possibility of talking to Golden Heritage about building new storage space with the help of tax abatements from the city.

Paine said with the city not having sufficient funds to repair the building or to tear it down, some might think it was a mistake for the city to acquire the building in the first place.

?But there was great wisdom in acquiring the property,? he added, referring to the 21 acres north of the building that is being developed into Hillsboro Business Park.

Paine said the park will be generating property and sales tax revenue for the city into the future.

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