Cleveland City School board to consider study of cracks in gym dome

Cleveland City School board to consider study of cracks in gym dome

October 3rd, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

The dome of Cleveland High School's gym has problems that need to be addressed, according to a recent engineering report.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Cleveland City School board will consider approving a $27,000 structural analysis of Cleveland High School's domed gymnasium, which has cracks in its brick veneer.

At a recent meeting, the board of education's site committee discussed the problem.

"We are safe right now," said Hal Taylor, the system's director of maintenance and transportation. "The dome is safe."

Despite concerns about the veneer, the internal brickwork appears sound, he said. In-house inspections of the facility also indicated that the dome's roof and foundation are in good shape.

Taylor said the cracks in the brick veneer have shown movement and require an in-depth review.

One concern about the dome's design is that its cement brick walls did not include internal vertical support, such as expansion joints, he said.

"We've been put on notice," school board member Murl Dirksen said.

In light of the proposed structural evaluation, cosmetic updates to the dome will be put on hold, said Autumn O'Bryan, principal of Cleveland High School.

O'Bryan also asked the site committee to address event capacity at the school, which can seat 1,500 people in the bleachers and another 400 people on the floor of the domed gymnasium.

With an enrollment of 1,410 students, "we are struggling with the numbers," she said.

The committee also addressed concerns about the planned construction of a new $16.3 million elementary school on Georgetown Road and how it will fit in with state plans to expand the road, which forms part of state Route 60.

"It's not like it's going to be an unknown," said Dirksen, who praised open communication with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on its proposal to transform the two-lane road into one with five automobile lanes, two bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

Officials said the design plans for the school can be made to integrate with the state's changes to Georgetown Road.

The school is expected to be built before the Georgetown Road improvements, which still probably are four to six years away, said Paul Ramsey, energy education specialist for Cleveland City Schools.

The next Cleveland City Schools Board of Education meeting is Oct. 14.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.