Burst water pipe rehashes discussion about future of WL City Hall

The West Lafayette City Hall building has been evacuated due to mold issues after two incidents of pipes bursting in January 2014. (WLFI Photo)
The West Lafayette City Hall building has been evacuated due to mold issues after two incidents of pipes bursting in January 2014. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- A room used to the hustle and bustle of city meetings is now empty. Instead of talking, there is only the sound of fans inside the West Lafayette Council Chambers.

The fans and dehumidifiers come after a burst water pipe was discovered in the building on Sunday.

“There was a lot of water damage,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said. “There was a lot of standing water. We had about three inches in the council chambers. We had about five inches in the basement.  Then a lot of saturated carpet and records material up on the third floor.”

Dennis said over the weekend a latch on the roof broke which opened a roof door. That exposed the indoor pipes to the freezing temperatures. Then, as they thawed out a pipe burst.

It’s the second burst pipe this month. Mayor Dennis said he wants city offices out of the building on Navajo Drive.

“We realize this is probably the final nail in the coffin for city hall on Navajo [Drive],” Dennis said. “The building is tired, it’s warn out, as I have said before it is not ADA compliant, and it’s very difficult to get any kind of technology in there because of the way it is wired.”

Last year Dennis said he wanted to move city hall to the Morton Community Center. He said talks with the center are continuing, but nothing is set yet.

Engineers looked at the building and said it is viable for city offices. Now, Dennis is looking to move on to the next step.

“The next big thing is to make sure we are going to honor the contracts at Morton,” Dennis said. “There are a lot of folks there, the vendors who have their classes, as well as WALLA who has the ongoing education for our adults.”

Dennis said even if plans were concrete today, it would take more than a year to get everything in place for the move. As for officials at the Morton Center, they deferred any comment to the mayor’s office.

Dennis said  he will take a minimalist approach to repairing city hall after this weekend’s flooding. Crews will only do the repairs that are necessary. A cost of damage is still being assessed.

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