2013-02-07 / Front Page

Top floor of golf course building closed to public

According to town officials, second floor no longer safe

Due to structural concerns, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said at Monday’s Town Council meeting that the Jamestown Golf Course’s entire second floor will be closed to the public permanently.

The building up until now has been used in the summer for exercise classes and community theatre rehearsals. The pub and clubhouse will stay open seasonally. The town is obligated to provide the golf course with a clubhouse under the terms of the lease, which does not expire until December 2016, Keiser said previously.

“We feel we can address continuing operational needs from the [safety] code to enable the clubhouse to continue to operate,” Keiser told the councilors. He reference from a memo co-signed by Town Engineer Mike Gray, Building Official Fred Brown, and Jim Bryer and Howie Tighe from the Fire Department.

Gray, who attended the council meeting, said the memo was selfexplanatory. After reviewing the structural engineering report, the staff reassessed whether the town should keep the building open to the public given its present day condition. The memo recommended five safety measures and code corrections.

The first called for closing the second floor. The other recommendations were:

• Remove lawn mowers and other gasoline- and diesel-powered equipment from the basement and relocate the tools to a storage shed.

• Swap the overhead garage door on the building’s west side for a steel door outfitted with panic hardware to use as a secondary exit.

• Maintain current fire-safety systems, such as alarms.

• Install a fire-rated enclosure and door around the boiler.

Tighe said the clubhouse could open April 1 if all the corrections had been made, but he added the recommendations are meant to provide only a temporary solution. A boiler fire at the Jamestown Golf Course was contained quickly last week, Tighe said, but the council should demolish the building on a schedule and not allow the situation “to go on forever.”

The golf course building has been closed during the winter since September 2011 – and periodically during windy storms – on the recommendation of a structural engineer who warned about a possible roof collapse or other failure.

Last month, the Town Council decided to replace the building but did not settle any of the details. Meanwhile, the councilors directed Keiser to work with staff and assess the options.

On Monday, Keiser announced the decision to close about threequarters of the building, including the second floor where residents have participated in yoga, Pilates and tai chi classes.

Keiser has suggested asking the Island Heron, which specializes in yoga, to take over the classes, but some residents said they were doubtful there was adequate space at the Narragansett Avenue business.

Jamestown resident Lois Migneault told the council 50 women regularly attend the Pilates class and are committed to the instructor.

“Today, we got notice we’re not meeting,” said Migneault, who indicated she received the news in an email. “I don’t think it can be easily replaced with a new business in town that has a fairly small venue.”

Councilor Mary Meagher asked Bill Piva, the rec department head, to hunt for a new space for the exercise classes. Piva said the Parks & Recreation Department conducted a previous and unsuccessful search for alternative space for the exercise classes, but he agreed to try again.

“I don’t know where we’re going to go,” he said. “I just found out today we were shutting it down. We’re scrambling now.”

Kristine Trocki, the council president, said the decision to close the space was due to a public safety issue.

“We have no choice,” she said, adding that the loss of space was temporary.

Keiser said the town would have to look at the cost of providing space for the classes because the taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing recreation programs if a business could provide the same service. He reiterated Tuesday that he doesn’t think municipal government should be competing with the private sector.

Keiser said the owners of Island Heron had welcomed the idea of taking on the classes.

Meagher said she thought Island Heron could take over the yoga classes, but wasn’t sure if the business had experience with Pilates or tai chi.

Jamestown resident Don Richardson asked why the building has suddenly been deemed so dangerous.

Keiser said the problem was wear and tear combined with structural “inadequacy when built.”

“The town is taking a very cautious approach regarding the risk associated with liability for injury due to use of the building given the structural engineer’s report that the roof and foundation conditions do not meet current building code requirements,” Keiser wrote in an email to the Press following the council meeting. “The structural engineer’s analysis concluded that the second floor should not be used during high wind or snow load. Under advice of the town solicitor and town staff, the Town Council has agreed to fully minimize public liability for injury by eliminating the second floor use.”

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