BELLE FOURCHE — The city of Belle Fourche has condemned the century-old Roosevelt Events Center after the date to address numerous code violations had passed.

The condemnation notice was posted Wednesday; however, two tenants have filed an appeal with the city.

“This has been an ongoing process. We’ve been working with them since March 2018, and things don’t get done,” said Steve Nafus, interim engineer for the city of Belle Fourche. “We finally had to pull the plug on it.”

Nafus said the city issued a notice of violation of building codes for the facility, located at 1010 State Street, on July 2. The notice was appealed, and a meeting was held between the owners, the city and respective attorneys on Aug. 20. 

James Pietila along with his wife, Provatia Pietila, own the building.

At the Aug. 20 meeting, the parties agreed that the Pietilas were to provide a structural engineering report within 30 days.

This was done, but according to the condemnation notice, the engineer only “inspected the water damage that has occurred to the building specifically for damage to the theater and gym wing.”

That engineering report, from Lance Redinger, owner of Lance Engineering, was dated Sept. 17. 

“The building is not up to code, is not safe for the public to be in,” Nafus said. “There are fire hazards and a lot of issues. We can’t let it be open anymore without getting these corrected first.”

This statement reiterated the condemnation notice signed by Chase Williamson, the city’s building inspector.

“I deem the Property to be unsafe based upon my personal inspections of the property, the NOV (notice of violation), and the admissions contained in the Pietila Response,” he wrote in the notice.

James Pietila disagrees that the building is unsafe.

“The engineer’s initial report went into great detail for areas above the gymnasium, and then was a general report for the rest of the building.” Pietila said. 

But in order to mitigate other items addressed in the July notice of violation, that engineer’s report was needed.

Redinger also said that neither the tenants nor the public should be concerned with the structural integrity of the building.

“We also walked around the building and above the currently occupied second floor and the attic space,” Redinger wrote in his revised report dated Thursday. “We did not observe additional issues that caused concern nor identify any issues that were questionable. We are also are not responsible for issues we did not observe. We simply did not see or note other significant issues.” 

In the report, Redinger noted that, “a few ceiling joists were also compromised, and needed strengthening, or additional joists

sistered onto the existing joists. The ceiling joist alongside the masonry wall also needed replaced.

“There are three roof joists that are compromised, and the jab test indicated that the joists are punky, and new joists need to be sistered onto the existing joists,” he added.

But he reiterated, “The overall integrity appears to be adequate, with no concern of general structural/building failure. The water damaged joists should be strengthened to prevent the few joists from collapsing and allowing exterior elements from flowing into the building. These joists do not appear to be in any immediate risk of sudden collapse but should be strengthened prior to a full snow loading event to prevent the few roof joists from collapsing and allowing exterior elements into the habitable space.”

He also said that there were some minor issues with drainage that could impact the integrity of the building.

Seventeen violations noted on the city’s July 2 notice of violation included: 

Dilapidated roof; 

Gym ceiling and auditorium floor do not appear to be structurally sound; 

Building lacks an automatic fire-extinguishing system; 

The electrical infrastructure does not appear to be in compliance with applicable code;

Added businesses and changes of use necessitate an evaluation/inspection by the state fire marshal; 

Exit signs are not in compliance with applicable code; 

Property lacks emergency backup power illuminated signs; 

Property lacks a comprehensive professional layout for the building including all current businesses and their uses to determine how many exits are required and where; 

Property lacks fire safety and evacuation plans for all occupancies in all rooms in the building; 

Property lacks an ADA accessible entrance; 

Property lacks an ADA accessible toilet room; 

Property lacks at least one accessible parking area per 25 parking spots; 

Property lacks the accessible routes to second story and to gymnasium; 

Property lacks a minimum one standing person drinking fountain and one drinking fountain complying with the requirements for people who use a wheelchair; 

A comprehensive layout for the building including all current businesses and their uses to determine how many toilet rooms are required; 

Businesses added to building without having appropriate conditional use permits or checking with city engineering department for requirements to adhere to code with changes of occupancy; 

And owner has not obtained a permit for the majority of the business signs on property.

Nafus said some items that the violation notice cited have been addressed while others have not.

“We have struggled to get compliance for everything,” he said.

The center currently houses a discounted movie store, a fitness center, a preschool and the Belle Fourche Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Pietilas purchased the building in January 2018 with a goal of restoring the building and turning it into a more community-oriented space.

The building, the former Roosevelt High School, was built in two sections. Pietila said the original portion of the school, built in 1920, housed three classrooms on two levels. The remainder of the substantial 44,000 square-foot building, including the gymnasium, auditorium, main hallway, and remaining classrooms, was added in the mid 1920s.

“The school district, as near as we can tell, quit using it as a school in 1993 or 1994,” he said.

In December 2018, the state historical society approved the nomination of the building to the list of National Register of Historical Places.

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(1) comment



This is so sad!

Cant we as a community do some fundraising to help restore this beautiful building so that the dream they had of it becoming part of the community again become a reality?

Would love to see this happen and to see another historical landmark building saved!!

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