Trent town hall building faces roof issue

The roof of the Trent town office and garage is falling in on the north end. The town has moved out of the building and into the Trent Gym. The collapse isn’t visible outside the building.

Equipment, office temporarily moved to town gym

Trent’s town office and garage building has a sagging roof that has led to an evacuation with everything moved to the gym.
The roof in the northwest corner of the building, in the garage area, has sagged about a foot, causing the town’s insurance company to stop insuring the building’s contents, said Jonathan Damm, president of the town board. Without insurance, the town board moved the equipment and the office to the trent gym on Feb. 1, so that the community’s assets still would be insured.
“It’s the only other building in town where we could fit stuff,” he said. “We can’t leave all the assets sitting there uninsured.”
The sagging started after last year’s heavy snowfall, he said. The insurance company sent a structural engineer to town, who said the biggest problem was the building’s age. The building is pictured in very early photos of the town, but Damm isn’t sure when it was built. “Nobody I’ve asked can tell me how old that build is,” he said.
Two contractors have said the roof is not repairable because there also are issues with the walls, as well, he said. The southwest corner wall also is separating.
So far, the building is not officially condemned.
The town is waiting on a bid for what it would cost to have a pole shed built to store its equipment, which includes a snowplow, two tractors, a few generators and a couple of lawnmowers. Damm hopes to have an estimated cost back for the Feb. 13 town meeting at the gym.
If the city building can’t be saved, it most likely will have to be torn down, he said. The city doesn’t have a lot of money in reserves but there also are low-interests loans offered by the state, he said.
“We’re a small town. Our budget is pretty small,” he said.
A few residents have had questions and have been seeking answers on a community Facebook page, such as where to take utility payments. Those can still be dropped in the regular slot at the former office. Damm picks up everything put in the slot each evening.
City finance officer Kimberly Nelson will mostly work from home temporarily, especially when it’s cold because it doesn’t make sense to heat the gym, Damm said.
The town has had to cancel two events in which people rented the gym, and will decide future bookings on a case-by-case basis, Damm said. The move won’t prevent the fireman pancake feed from being at the gym, for example, he said.
The town would be able to roll the equipment outside for events, and the equipment is parked on cardboard so that it won’t leak on the floor, he said.
“There is little impact on the building,” he said. “We wracked our brains for an option we had, and it’s the only one we could come up that would work.”

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