Valdese Police and Fire Department building cracking from winter freeze

Building cracks could cost city thousands

VALDESE, NC (WBTV) - The town of Valdese in Burke County is trying to decide what to do after serious cracks developed in the Public Safety Center building this winter. The town's fire and police departments are both housed there.

Fire Chief Charlie Watts says engineers have told him wire lattice work that connects several walls is crumbling. Hairline cracks apparently allowed moisture in, and with the deep freeze in January, major cracks developed. That possibly allowed even more moisture in.

The building in question is actually a combination of three structures. Cracks seem to be worse in the police department and moving towards the fire department, but the entire structure is compromised, said Watts.

"Engineers have told me the roof beams are actually what's holding the walls up and together."

Fire and police departments are considered "Essential Buildings," and are supposed to be strong enough to survive disasters and at least 100 mph wind. Watts says he has been told the building will not.

The town has approved $17,500 for engineering studies on how the building might be fixed or if part - or all - of it should be torn down.

"We want to be as careful as we can with taxpayers' money on this," said Watts.

The town has also put $20,000 into an escrow account to put a hold on a former bank property it may purchase if need be. That site is being considered for a police department if a move is necessary.

As for a new fire station, that could cost in excess of $1-2 million, said Watts. Officials say they are looking at all options.

Engineers should have their study complete some time this summer.

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