Members of the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously to demolish a 63-year-old building at Linda Pedersen Park that was damaged by flooding caused by Hurricane Idalia. The decision to demolish was based on the costs of repair to the structure that was formerly used to house Port Authority meetings but is now unused.
During their Jan. 23 regular meeting, Hernando Community Services Director Chris Linsbeck told BOCC members that the approximately 910 sq. ft. Port Authority Building located at Linda Pedersen Park, built in 1961, had been flooded inside with between 16- and 17-inches of water causing significant damage to drywall, the swelling of interior wood and flood damage to the outside of the building.
“Also, the concern with this structure is the roof, which hasn’t been replaced in 37 years, so it needs a new roof,” Linsbeck said. “But under the ‘50 percent rule,’ we’re prohibited from putting on a new roof.”
According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFILP), the 50 percent rule is an NFIP regulation that prohibits improvements to a structure exceeding 50 percent of its market value unless the entire structure is brought into full compliance with current flood regulations. Compliance may include elevating the structure, using flood-resistant materials, and establishing proper flood venting.
The appraised value of the property came in around $89,155, and the most recent estimate for roof replacement was $70,000, Linsbeck told the panel.
Commissioner Brian Hawkins balked at the roofing estimate.“Just to add, there is no way it costs $70,000 for a 900 sq. ft. roof,” he said. “I understand looking at the cheapest bid, you’re looking at $70,000 (and) that’s 10-times market value -that’s just the estimate you got but that’s just ludicrous.”
Among the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) options for the Port Authority Building was the demolition of the structure at an estimated cost of $25,000 or less.
“We spent approximately $4,000 to remove drywall to 4 feet and all flooring and cabinets so we could dry it out,” Linsbeck’s written proposal read. “This will currently be reimbursed through FEMA.”
Commissioner John Allocco preferred the FEMA option. “Here’s the thing – it’s gonna flood and it’s gonna flood and it’s gonna flood and there’s no point in throwing money at this building it just doesn’t make any sense at this point,” he said. “I just think that this is a waste of time repairing this building.”
In response, Linsbeck recommended the teardown. “Demolish it and potentially rebuild it with some kind of shade structure or something to enhance the park,” he told the group. He also promised to inform the BOCC about options for replacing the building.
Before the discussion ended, Commissioner Steve Champion commented on the roofing estimate. “I keep hearing this government math, but I’ve got a permit right now where I’m putting a 1,400 sq. ft. building with a brand new metal roof and it cost me $7,800,” he said. “ This is a lifetime roof, it’s permanent and everything – that (the $70,000 estimate) is robbery, we should never use that vendor ever again.”
Finally, Allocco moved that the panel authorize demolishing the structure.
The motion passed by a vote of 5-0.