Structural weaknesses found in Merton Village Hall building |

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MERTON – Structural weaknesses discovered in the demolition of the village house / community center reinforced the Merton Village Board’s decision not to remodel the historic 166 year old church building.

The First Baptist Church of Merton, located on Main Street near the village center, was built in 1855.

In 2009, the community sold the building and two adjacent homes to the village for $ 400,000 after the new Grace Hill Church on Hickory Hill Drive was built, according to Rev. Darrel Schrock.

When they bought the building, the village trustees intended to convert it into a community hall and center in the future, said village president Ron Reinowski.

More than a decade later, village officials tried to implement these plans but found that renovating the building would be too costly.

Some residents were unhappy that the board had decided not to try to save the old church, said deputy treasurer Julie Orfori-Mattmüller.

But it was a prudent fiscal decision, said Reinowski.

After the building was demolished on December 8, a construction worker told a photojournalist that the demolition was taking longer than expected because the support beams for the church tower were rotting.

Reinowski confirmed the report, saying there were more signs of deterioration.

“During the demolition, it turned out that the building’s bones weren’t good,” he told Conley Media.

The demolition is one of a series of projects designed to provide a more efficient place to work for local government in a community whose population (3,824) has grown by nearly 70 percent in 20 years.

The village is borrowing $ 2.5 million to build a 10,000 square foot meetinghouse / community center on Main Street.

The building will be designed so that some government functions can be carried out simultaneously with the activities of the community center.

Reinowski said there was a demand to rent the village community center facilities from residents, nonprofits and community organizations, and local businesses.

The fire station is being converted to offer overnight accommodation so that rescue workers can be on site around the clock.

An annex was added to the Department of Public Works building in Fireman’s Park to provide office space for the department and an indoor toilet for park visitors.

“When the dust settles, we will have a separate building for public works, a separate building for the fire department and a separate building for a community and community center,” says Reinowski.

For more than 50 years, the local government resided in the fire station, located about two blocks west of the intersection of Main Street and Sussex Road.

The building department had a small office on the east side of the building, while the village administration had another small office on the west side of the building.

However, these offices were evacuated in early 2020.

Village officials were concerned that civilian office workers and firefighters and paramedics who shared the fire station’s kitchen and bathrooms are at risk of infecting each other with COVID-19.

They also feared the office space would be too small to do business with the public during a pandemic.

The meeting house was moved to the community center while trustees and contractors explored the possibility of redesigning the building.

According to Reinowski, a contractor estimated the cost of renovating the building at about $ 1.7 million, excluding the cost of repairs to the building’s structure that might be discovered after the renovation began.

“As there were no drainage tiles, the basement was occasionally flooded. There was insufficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning for a building this size and the bathrooms were insufficient for a community center, ”he added.

After a decision was made to demolish the building, the meetinghouse was relocated again, this time to rented rooms at St. John’s United Christian Church.

Reinowski said the new meeting house / center should be completed in September 2022 in time for the village’s centenary and the November parliamentary elections


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