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Homeless people line up to enter the Pioneer Hall homeless shelter.

$400K needed to bring Pioneer Hall up to code

Continuing to use Pioneer Hall as a homeless shelter would cost the city $400,000 in renovations to bring it up to code, according to a city staff report.

The hall is used as a homeless shelter four nights a week: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Local churches offer shelter Mondays and Wednesdays. There’s no scheduled Ashland shelter on Saturday nights.

Public Works Director Paula Brown planned to present three options regarding Pioneer Hall to the council at a study session Monday night.

The facility has served as one of three locations for winter shelter and emergency shelter the last five years. Last year, the city found the facility vulnerable during heavy snow and ice storms, making it dangerous to occupy. The council authorized a $40,000 study in November to find a solution.

The city staff report lays out three options: divest the property, renovate for emergency shelter use at the price of $325,000, or renovate with the installation of fire sprinklers to meet state code for transient lodging occupancy for $404,000.

The hall was built in 1921, with additions and alterations in subsequent years. To bring it up to code for recreational and emergency use, it needs removal of the chimney due to seismic concerns, strengthening of the roof joists and floor, and electrical and plumbing upgrades, among other items. That would cost about $325,000 and would allow use as an emergency shelter.

An “emergency,” according to the city staff report, is something that does not regularly occur, so the 12-inch snow event in January 2017 would have qualified, but freezing temperatures in winter months would not.

To bring it up to residential standards and allow use as a regularly scheduled shelter as it currently is used would require installation of a sprinkler system, bringing the cost to about $400,000.

The staff report suggests the council review background information and consider at its May 1 meeting how to proceed.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Tran Nguyen at 541-776-4485 or tnguyen@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on twitter @nguyenntrann.

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