By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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While the grandstand at the 66-year-old field at 550 Washington St. is closed until further notice, previously scheduled activities will continue on the field itself, said Monte Reinders, Jefferson County public works director.
The roof and its supporting structure must be removed before the grandstand can be used again, he said.
County officials had expected to replace the roof this summer, a project expected to cost between $80,000 and $100,000.
They hadn’t expected to immediately replace all the wooden grandstand area, excluding the concert bleachers.
Reinders said he doesn’t know how much that will cost — or where the county will get the money.
Engineer Scott Headrick inspected the grandstand Friday while the Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival carnival was on the field and reported his findings Monday to Port Townsend contractor Mark Grant, who had planned to bid on the roof replacement project.
The news from Headrick prompted Grant to drop his plans to bid.
Headrick recommended condemnation of the grandstand because of “degradation in the majority of structural members due to exposure to the salt air, rain water and lack of maintenance.”
His statement was in an email thread from Headrick to Grant that was supplied to the Peninsula Daily News by the city of Port Townsend.
According to Headrick’s report, the degree of degradation is severe or extremely severe in several areas, included the main frame columns and base plates, the roof purlins (supports) connections, the windbreak columns and the roofing and wall panels.
“It wasn’t in imminent danger of falling down by itself, but it probably would not have stood up against an earthquake, a snowstorm or a heavy windstorm,” Headrick, who has an office in Port Angeles, said Tuesday.
Upon receiving a copy of the report Tuesday morning, Rick Sepler, Port Townsend Development Services Department director, issued immediate instructions to “red-tag” the facility until a full inspection takes place.
“The city must assume the worst case and act accordingly and must red-tag the stands,” Sepler wrote in an email to Jefferson County Central Services Director Frank Gifford.
The field, along with the Port Townsend Recreation Center, is one of two facilities that is owned by Jefferson County but located within the Port Townsend city limit, meaning the property is subject to city code.
A “red tag” means the property owner — Jefferson County, in this case — must take immediate action on the property before it can be occupied, according to Michael Hoskins at the city’s planning department, who added that red-tagging isn’t condemnation of the property.
Sepler said the city will need a schedule for removal of the roof and stabilization of the structure or an identification of safe limited uses before allowing bleacher occupancy.
The maintenance of Memorial Field and the Rec Center has been subsidized since 2011 through a voter-approved property tax increase, with the city providing about $400,000 yearly from its share of the increase for maintenance and operation.
That revenue will end in 2015. No substitute funding has been secured.
Reinders and the county will perform further structural analysis and investigation into the design of a new roof structure.
The discovery has postponed and changed the nature of the bidding process, which was scheduled to begin in June.
“We can make the field work without the grandstands and hope they will be able to be used in time for football in the fall,” Reinders said.
The summer events planned on the field can be conducted without the grandstand, Reinders said.
There are some bleachers on the other side of the field, and temporary seating can be used.
During this time, access to the field will occur through the gates at Quincy Street and Washington Street, and portable restrooms will be installed.
Memorial Field is the main athletic field for Port Townsend, hosting baseball, football and soccer, as well as an annual car show and cancer walk.
It was dedicated 66 years ago today, May 21, 1948.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.