Civic Center deck needs replacing

Published 1:19 am Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Washington Civic Center deck is showing its age and the need for replacement. A report presented to the City Council provides details about the deck’s deterioration. (WDN Photo/Sara Cowell)

Preliminary report finds multiple code violations

Washington’s City Council learned at its July 18 meeting that there’s no question the Washington Civic Center deck is in dire need of replacement.

An inspection performed by Wayne Harrell, the city’s chief building official, confirms that. Harrell’s inspection and subsequent report on the decking came after Lynn Lewis, director of the Washington Tourism Development Authority, asked Harrell to evaluate the Civic Center’s deck.

Lewis is seeking to replace the deck because of its poor condition.

The inspection report lists several common building code violations. They include:

  • No protection against decay;
  • Too few or inadequate fasteners;
  • Decking material not secure;
  • Decking material unlevel;
  • Insufficient support and anchoring;
  • Missing or noncompliant guardrails, handrails;
  • Profile of steps incorrect;
  • Accessible ramps and landings inadequate;
  • Accessory items insufficient.

Portions of the existing deck were built in the 1970s.

“During the last 30 years the deck has not been adequately maintained and is current in a state of disrepair,” reads the report.

After the report was presented, the council took no action regarding the deck. That’s likely to come later once it has more information about the matter.

John Rodman, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department, said the city has no estimate on the cost of replacing the deck. Such an estimate would come after a more-detailed inspection of the deck is made, he noted.

“We only did a walk-through inspection,” Rodman said Monday, adding the report does not include information that would be obtained through a thorough, more-technically exhaustive inspection.

The results of the less-formal inspection let the council and other city officials know there are problems with the Civic Center’s deck, Rodman said.

“We wanted to make sure they understand the existing deck had some existing code violations,” Rodman said. “Over time, the code has changed, resulting in some of those violations.”

Mayor Archie Jennings said he expects the council to revisit the deck issue soon and develop a plan that addresses immediate needs and long-term needs.

“We already had some money in the budget to deal with what we thought was the scope of the problem,” Jennings said Monday, adding that replacing the deck likely would be done in phases, with money for the project allocated over several upcoming budgets.

Harrell’s report indicates the scope of the problem is greater than first thought, Jennings said.

“If the deck were built today, it would be built to higher standards,” Jennings said, noting the deck met existing codes when it was built.

The city provides WTDA a $50,000 subsidy each year to operate the Civic Center. Earlier this year, WTDA sought to have that subsidy increased by $15,000. The council would not go along with that request. It decided to continue the policy of providing additional funding for additional maintenance or other needs at the Civic Center on a case-by-case basis.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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