Raider Dome to be closed
by DELANEY WALKER Banner Staff Writer
Dec 03, 2013 | 1981 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleveland Board of Education approved a contingency plan to shut down and block off Cleveland High School’s Raider Dome by Jan. 6, in light of a recent structural analysis.

All students are barred from entering the dome or the basement classrooms as of today.

Bennett & Pless, Inc. President Rex Pless shared his consulting structural engineers’ initial findings at Monday night’s meeting.

The engineers went into the analysis with three thoughts in mind: safety, possible repairs and the potential for a new gym. They noted significant movement has taken place in the walls since the construction of the building. The preliminary report was given to Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of City Schools.

“In a nutshell, we have indicated if you all want to keep the gym open, there are certain limitations that will apply,” Pless told the board Monday night.

“For example, anytime a wind strength of over 30 miles per hour is anticipated, we recommend the gym be closed. If there is going to be 2 inches or more of snow or ice, we would recommend the gym be closed,” Pless said. “Third, if we notice, as we monitor the cracks in the masonry walls of the gym, any significant movement in those, we would recommend the gym be closed permanently.”

Findings were discovered over three extended visits by three of the consulting firm’s top engineers.

Pless said at least 50 percent of the roof’s timber members would be significantly overstressed, if the roof receives a heavy load.

He also pointed out the cracks in the masonry wall, particularly those observed on the inside, are rather significant. According to Pless, there is a 1-inch offset in a number of the cracks. The same offset was observed in one of the cracks found on the exterior brick veneer. Further studies discovered the cracks on the brick veneer are within inches of major cracks on the interior.

Pless said the close proximity of the interior and exterior cracks is significant.

He offered several suggestions in case the board was in favor of salvaging the dome. However, he said the dome’s overall construction was faulty.

“The roof when it was originally installed was not adequate,” Pless said. “All of the steel posts and rods you see were added during the construction phase by the people who originally built it.”

Board member Steve Morgan asked if the dome had been a bad design and Pless responded in the affirmative.

Ringstaff suggested the board take immediate action.

“I am of the impression I do not want to wait until a strong wind triggers this,” Ringstaff said. “My suggestion to the high school administration is we shut the gym down — the entire portion of that building ... until the final structure is done.”

Tonight’s basketball games have been moved to Cleveland Middle School’s gym. Health and wellness classes will utilize other facilities on the high school campus to include the old middle school gym and the Jones Wrestling Center. Classes conducted in the basement of the gym have been moved to other classrooms throughout the school.

Teachers and coaches will have until Christmas break to move everything out.

According to Ringstaff, “It is not a pretty plan, it is a contingency plan.”