Aberdeen City Council may soon decide future of Armory building

The Aberdeen City Council could soon decide whether the remains of the Armory will be demolished or rebuilt, and a public hearing to get input on the matter is planned for the council’s next meeting.

Now five months after the Armory building fire — which destroyed the Aberdeen Museum of History, as well as the space for the Coastal Community Action Program, which serves low income citizens in a variety of ways — Aberdeen Parks and Recreation Director Stacie Barnum told the council last week that they need to make a decision fairly soon on whether to preserve or demolish the remains.

At the council meeting last Wednesday, Mayor Erik Larson said he would prefer the building be saved. “I believe the building has significant cultural (value) to the area, and it would be my position that we work to preserve the exterior of the building … or we determine it’s not feasible,” said Larson.

The motion was unanimously rejected by the council members, with some saying they either felt it’s better to demolish the building and others adding they felt it was too hasty to decide without more discussion.

“To me it’s a burned out shell and we need to knock it down,” said council member Tim Alstrom. “If the community wants to keep it, I don’t mind having a public hearing about it. But for us to make a statement now that that’s the route we’re going, I’m totally not in favor of that.”

The recovery team for the Armory has finished retrieving artifacts from the museum, and shoring work to stabilize the building has also been completed, Barnum told The Daily World. The building’s remaining overhanging beams were knocked down last week, leaving just the outer walls, some of which are now supported with attached metal poles sticking out into the neighboring alleyways.

After structural engineers tested the Armory’s four exterior concrete walls, Barnum said three of them were in “not so good” condition due to the heat damage, and that parts of the building tested positive for asbestos. She added that if the city wanted to know the cost to rebuild the building, they would need to hire a separate consultant to figure that out.

At the council’s next meeting on Nov. 14, it will have a public hearing where anyone can give their opinions on what should happen to the building. Larson said the council would “hopefully” make a decision at that meeting.