LEBANON — Plans to move Lebanon’s Recreation and Parks department offices into a fixer-upper on Seminary Hill in West Lebanon are being scrapped as the building is too far gone for the needed work, according to the director of the department.
Lebanon gained the building through the tax deed process, and hoped to rehabilitate it into office space, but it “has been uninhabited for the better part of 10 years, and it was a complete disaster,” said the department director, Paul Coats.
The department is currently housed in city hall, but with a $3 million renovation for city hall slated to start this summer, Coats said the clock is ticking to find a new home for his staff.
When the plan was first formulated for the Seminary Hill building, the estimated cost to rehabilitate the building was $446,000. That was before the city’s consultant could get a good look at the property, Coats said.
The consultant based his estimate on observations of the outside of the property, and looking into the interior through windows, Coats said. Once the city was able to get into the building and clear out the accumulated garbage and debris, major structural issues were soon discovered.
The building is not fit for rehabilitation, and needs around $250,000 of work before it can be considered ready for rehabilitation, Coats said.
“They don’t even know if that number is going to be sufficient or not,” Coats said.
Coats said the long-term goal is for the department to relocate to a new community center, which is still in the early stages of discussions. Until that happens, he’s looking for temporary space.
“We just need some interim space,” he said.
There are a few good leads, he said, including possibly using space at one of the city’s parks, though he needs more information before moving forward.
The Seminary Hill property’s fortunes faltered in recent years, leading the structure to become abandoned and condemned by the city. Lebanon took possession of the property in 2010 for nonpayment of back taxes, and it has sat idle ever since. The property is currently valued at $118,000, according to city records.
The building, built in the 1830s, was originally a single-family home before it was divided into apartments.
It includes 12 bedrooms in a 5,300-square-foot building on a half-acre corner lot.