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Demolition solution still being sought for Ellinwood building
new vlc Ellinwood update 3
McMican takes a look at the foundation from the crawl space of the Batchmans building. Moisture has entered the space after the adjoining buildings back wall was removed, exposing that foundation to the elements. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

Donald G. McMican, president of DGM Consultants, PA, a structural engineering and masonry consulting company, met with Ellinwood City Manager Bud Newberry, Mark and Cassie Batchman, and a representative of Stone Construction Monday morning.  He was there at the request of the city to determine how to safely complete the demolition of a city-owned building  at the corner of First and Main Street. The structure has sat untouched since late last September after the contractor, Nelson Stone, halted work when it became apparent knocking the building down was about to do more harm than good.  While McMican was able to offer a solution, questions about who will be responsible for some of the costs involved are still unanswered.  
Mark and Cassie Batchman, owners of the adjoining building where The Cutting Edge Salon operates, have been directly affected.  Not only has their building been damaged, their property insurance was dropped after the south wall was left open to the elements for an extended period.  
McMican, consultant for the  Sts. Peter and Paul Church steeple project that occurred in rural Ellinwood earlier this year, has been involved in historic preservation since 1987. Most notably, he was the building engineer to oversee reconstruction of the 1864 Sproxton Methodist Chapel dismantled in England, shipped to Baker University in Baldwin City, reconstructed, and renamed the Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel.  The list of the projects he’s headed up is extensive, and he is the engineer Cassie Batchman said she and Mark requested the city consult months ago.  
He began his investigation of the problem buildings early Monday morning, and with the help of a mechanical bucket was able to view all aspects of the exposed areas of the buildings from roof to ground.  
“I’ve saved worse looking walls than this,” he said, as he offered his shorthand assessment of what could be done to complete the work safely with the least amount of disruption to Batchmans’ business.  Another engineering firm earlier had suggested that Cassie would need to close her salon and her building would need to be shored up on the inside during the demolition. It was suggested a contemporary wall would need to be built to replace the original wall.  
But McMican’s solution as proposed Monday morning is far less invasive.  Essentially, it will require a careful dismantling of the city’s building, rather than simply knocking it down.  
At issue is how the ceiling support beams are tied into the wall that abuts the Batchmans’ wall.  The 25-foot long spans will need to be supported, then cut inches from the wall before the building can be dropped.  Then, the small stubs of wood can be removed from the wall without damaging it further, McMican said.  
Batchman would be able to stay open for business during this time, but she felt it would be nerve-wracking for her stylists and their clients, so anticipates she may see a drop off during that period.  
Once the south building is completely demolished, the city will need to fill in the hole from the foundation.  McMican recommended the city remove the entire foundation, as it is hoped another structure could be built there in the future.  With the back wall of the city’s building torn off and the foundation exposed to the elements for nearly a year, moisture from snow and rain appears to have migrated through the foundation into the crawl space of the Batchmans’ building, which sits lower than the city’s building by a couple of feet.  McMican recommended when the demolition is complete and the opening from the foundation is filled, it be capped with a layer of clay and sloped away from the building in order to mitigate the possibility of further water damage to the Batchmans’ foundation.  
When the demolition is complete, McMican recommended the south wall bricks either be repointed, or the entire wall coated with moisture barrier and Gunite, in order to ensure a moisture-tight exterior.   The city’s building extended further west toward the alley than the Batchmans’ building, so that corner will need to be squared off and finished, with repairs made where holes were torn in the wall when the back wall was removed.    
It is yet to be determined which party will bear the cost of the repairs, or if both will share the cost.  Cassie Batchman expressed concern that the couple have already incurred far more expense than they can bear over the past 10 months, and she is concerned about the saleability of the building in the future.  
McMican plans to have a report tying in his findings with those of the other engineering firm completed within the next week to 10 days.  Newberry said it will be an agenda item at the next regular Ellinwood City Council meeting on Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. at the City Office.