Friday, June 21, 2024

New Hanover High’s Brogden Hall is sinking. Fixing it will take the gym out of commission for at least a year.

New Hanover High School will be using its offshoot gym on Princess St. for most of this school year as crews deal with structural issues in Brogden Hall. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — New Hanover High School’s flagship gymnasium Brogden Hall will be out of commission for most of the upcoming school year, as crews work to address structural issues with the gym floor. 

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved sending the local school district $820,000 at its Tuesday meeting. Funds will be derived from bond contingency to finance three projects that involve deficiencies in public schools.

According to Leanne Lawrence, director of facility planning and construction for New Hanover County Schools, the 1954 high school gym is built on a raised concrete slab. The support structures for that slab are becoming faulty due to the settlement of soil beneath the gym. 

“In addition, because the building was constructed many years ago, that concrete slab has been discovered to be structurally inefficient for the loads that are applied to it,” Lawrence told commissioners at the Tuesday morning meeting. “We need to, in addition to augmenting the foundation, we need to either reinforce or replace that concrete slab.” 

The board of education previously voted to replace the floor of the gym last August. This newest approved expenditure for Brogden Hall is for $500,000, set to fund the design process and the addition of air conditioning in the high school’s Princess Place gymnasium, where activities will be redirected while Brogden is unusable. The construction plan for the Brogden work will be finalized within the next two months, according to the meeting agenda, and is estimated at $2 million. 

“We are in a very aggressive stage of addressing this,” Lawrence told commissioners. “And we appreciate the patience of a community. Because it has been a process.”

Also included in the $820,000 transfer to the district approved Tuesday is $100,000 for floor issues in Myrtle Grove Middle School related to moisture; $220,000 will go to Wrightsville Beach Elementary “to address indoor air quality and high humidity in the existing section of the building.” 

Commissioner Bill Rivenbark said upon a previous visit to the high school, he learned it was a surprise to many that there was essentially a “crawl space” beneath the gym floor, which exists because of the raised slab. 

“When it became a real problem was when the floor started dipping at the Market Street end, near the basketball court,” he said at the meeting. “It’s going to be a mess. It’s going to take at least a year.”

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