Community building in need of repairs

Structure was finished in 1942 and was partially funded by the Works Progress Administration

By Nora Maberry, January 14, 2010; posted here with permission from The Leader

Community Building in BroadlandsThe Ayers Township Community Building is in need of repairs.

The building, located on Lincoln Street in Broadlands, has several areas that need repairs, said Broadlands Village Trustee Brian Pondenis.

A fire destroyed the kitchen area of the building several years ago, and the gymnasium floor is buckling due to water damage.

“Right now, that damage is relatively minor, but future additional damage to the floor should be prevented,” Pondenis said.

In addition to the kitchen and the gym floor, ceiling tiles in the gym have been knocked down, the stage is closed off and most of the building’s windows are boarded up or cracked.  Pondenis said the restrooms need repairs and the water has been turned off in the building to avoid freezing pipes.  In addition to that, the building is not entirely handicapped accessible.

“That should be addressed to ensure the entire community can make use of the building,” he said.

Pondenis said he feels the building should be preserved because of its historic value.

The building is architecturally unique to the area, and was financed and constructed partially by the Works Progress (Projects) Administration, which was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was the largest New Deal agency.

Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency.

Not only is the building a part of the nation’s history, it plays an important role in the history of Broadlands.

“Few downtown buildings remain that have survived both the 1949 Broadlands fire and the ravages of timw,” Pondenis said.  “Formerly, many community groups used the building for meetings and special events.”

The events included theater productions, sporting events and voting.  The building was also used as a library and a storm and bomb shelter.

Currently, the Broadlands Community Club hosts an annual Halloween contest in the gym, the Township Board holds meetings in the building and the Homer Grade School volleyball team occasionally practices there.

While the building is useable, Pondenis feels it should be made more attractive and more useful in order to benefit the community.

Citizens seem to agree.  Pondenis recently conducted a survey of residents in Broadlands and aske dhow they would like to see the community building, which was completed in July 1942, be used.

Citizens told Pondenis they would like to be able to use the gym for walking and exercise in the winter.  Others said they would like to see the building be used as a library, in addition to displaying local history.

Residents also expressed a desire to see the building used once again for special events, garage sales, and community organization meetings,” Pondenis said.  “Dance classes, bingo nights, and scouts and 4-H meetings could all be held in the building.”

The building could also be used as a storm shelter because the building is constructed entirely of reinforced concrete.

The construction of the building makes the cost of tearing down the building very high.  It would be more cost effective to make the building useable, Pondenis said.

Pondenis believes the township could apply for state and federal grant assistance to repair the building.

“The thing most wrong with the community building is that it is not being used to its fullest potential,” Pondenis said.

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