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December 14, 2013

Clock ticking on effort to save Wigwam

Committee looking at multiple uses


“Timing is critical,” Winkler said. “We have three months at the maximum.”

The Blue Ribbon Committee is scheduled to meet for the first time on Dec. 23.

The Committee is being tasked with determining the actual cost of rehabilitation of the Wigwam complex, which includes the gymnasium, cafeteria and former classrooms.

“The committee has to complete their work by early next year,” Winkler said. “If we’re going to be serious about the effort, a plan has to be presented.”

Tom Snyder, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said the intent of the group is to have a recommendation to the community early next year and to begin reaching out to the community.

He said the committee wants to hear from the private investment group and obtain ACS data on the estimated cost of rehabilitation and reuse of the Wigwam, to include the amount set aside for demolition.

“There is a strong possibility to repurpose the facility with a minimal new investment with a good revenue stream,” Snyder said. “The closure of the Wigwam, a national icon, would be bad for the community and county.”

Thimlar said investors have gone through the building from top to bottom.

“We have done our due diligence,” he said. “We had an evaluation done of the roof system. The roof is not an immediate concern; there is not a need to replace the entire roof.”

The Anderson Community Schools and city of Anderson don’t have large amounts of money to put into the project, Winkler said.

Potential funding sources include the county’s one percent food and beverage tax, which was implemented in 1985 to finance a downtown conference center.

“We need to find a viable use for the rest of the building,” he said of the area other than the gymnasium. “What is the cost of basic rehabilitation and to either repair or replace the roof?”

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