By Matthew Elberson
November 15, 2011
Although it might seem like a good idea to re-purpose this historic structure, be very careful as there could be a number of reasons why this is a bad idea.
For example, Accessibility - the building may need costly renovations to allow wheelchair access, notably adding ramps, restroom alterations and revisions to the interior layout to allow for turnaround space. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a federal requirement, and if there is going to be people from all over the US and overseas using the facility, someone is bound to feel slighted if they can't adequately use the space.
Since bathrooms are a big deal in terms of the ADA don't forget that the bathrooms may be too small for the number of users, fixtures may need to be added to meet plumbing code requirements.
There could be a number of structural upgrades required to meet current building codes. Remember, Ketchikan is not immune to earthquakes and this old wooden building will need to have a fire sprinkler system. In addition, is there any rot present in the structure?
What about power? Is there adequate electrical service to the building? Can circuits and outlets be added since this building will have a number of data lines, phones, computers and office equipment?
Then, ultimately there is the cost issue - is it cost effective to renovate this building? The current visitor center is a modular structure that can be picked up and easily moved to another site, or perhaps it makes more sense based on newer program requirements to build a new structure.
I am in favor of preservation of Ketchikan's old historic buildings and reusing them where it makes sense. It would be pertinent to have an architect evaluate the space to see if it is feasible to use this building as a visitor center.
Best of luck in settling the KVB relocation!
About: " Former Ketchikan resident now in California"
Received November 09, 2011 - Published November 15, 2011
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