July 13, 2024

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Kellogg YMCA building not salvageable

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KELLOGG — The YMCA building on McKinley Avenue holds a special place in local history for many, but after a lack of use and degrading building conditions, DEQ and the Silver Valley Economic Development Corp. (SVEDC) believe the structure has reached the end of its viable lifetime. 

“That structure is one windstorm away from imploding on itself,” Paige Olsen said during a recent Silver Valley Economic Development meeting. 

In the past, nude swimming for men when the building was a YMCA was just one of the unique elements that residents bring up when the local landmark is mentioned.  

Olsen said in a phone interview that although she dreams the building can be saved, realistically, after conversations with the Department of Environmental Quality tearing down the building is likely the safest and least costly option. 

“The building isn’t salvageable unless there’s an angel donor. Right now, it’s only worth the ground it sits on, which is negative $10 million. That’s what it would cost to do something with the building,” Olsen said. 

The SVEDC started the conversations to become a community facilitator for the site and work with DEQ to assess structural concerns like the beams in the basement. Brownfields funding is at no cost to government agencies, nonprofits and offshoots like SVEDC.   

In recent years, the structure had been sold to a few investment groups, but remained largely unused, causing it to fall further into disrepair. DEQ site surveying in phase one took place at the end of April 2023 through July 2023.   

“It obviously has huge historical significance for the area,” Olsen said.

The Silver Valley Economic Development Corp. has worked to intervene on similar projects like Wallace’s Civic auditorium. The auditorium was designed as a place for Wallace residents to congregate and phase two of the assessment with DEQ is underway in a parallel project to the one beginning at the former YMCA building.      

Olsen plans to approach the county to present a course of action to turn the Kellogg landmark into a community asset that can once again have fond memories for Silver Valley residents. 

“Doing something with it is better than the alternative,” Olsen said. “We can use those federal monies to come in and demolish the building.

The structure is missing roof and was gutted, but currently, there is a brownfields contract with DEQ as the structure and site are assessed. 

The phase one DEQ analysis of the building found no recognizable environmental conditions flagged other than the regional REC within the Bunker Hill Superfund Site. 

DEQ brownfields analyst Steve Gill said with the handover of the building from owner to owner, the former YMCA has “had starts and fits” as entrepreneurs attempted to get projects going over the years, to no success. 

“The real issue was looking at the structure itself with that beam. It was shocking when we were in there,” Gill said.  

If counties take back a building and it has some environmental issues, they wouldn’t be liable for tax liens.  

If the building was taken into county ownership potential cleanup money was applied for, The DEQ would then come in and do a much more engineering and science-based approach. 

“We’re really in a wait and see mode at this time,” Gill said.  

In July and the start of the DEQ fiscal year, Gill anticipates using the targeted brownfields assessment to draw up a cost analysis of options for the structure. 

The plan is to use federal funding for a more scientific and intensive cost analysis, usually taking about 30 days. 

DEQ would then have to follow rules and regulations to Follow Historic Preservation Act rules and work with Coeur d’Alene tribe, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office and Idaho Fish and Game as needed. 

An EPA assessment could then take place in mid-September. 

“That’s the next step we’ll be taking and that will probably occur this fall. We’d have an idea of cost and how to go forward with it,” Gill said. 

    File photo of the former Kellogg YMCA on McKinley Avenue.
 

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