Hyart Theatre repair awaits asbestos analysis

David Peck

Nearly two weeks after water from a burst pipe flooded the lobby of the Hyart Theatre, theater officials hoping for a reopening are in a wait-and-see mode as an asbestos study must be conducted before work to repair damage can begin.

“Nothing has changed (since last week),” Hyart Redevelopment Committee president Mike Steenbakkers said Tuesday. “We’re waiting on an asbestos analysis on the upstairs floor tiles, which will be done Wednesday (Jan. 4). We’re a good week to 10 days away from knowing the results of that.”

Steenbakkers said multiple samples were to be taken Wednesday and sent to a lab for analysis, and the project is in limbo until then.

“A lot will depend on those results,” he said. “I have no estimate on the timing or the projects that need to be done.”

There are signs of progress. Kleen Kare of Powell has had drying machines and dehumidifiers in the theater since Monday, Dec. 26, and stored material has been removed from the upstairs to make room for repair work.

“The insurance adjustor has been out, and there are still some fans and dehumidifiers in the building. There’s still some moisture in the air,” Steenbakkers said.

He guessed that no repair work will be done until the asbestos is remediated, likely due to insurance rules.

“It’s an old building, and that’s the process in place. It needs to be tested and abated,” Steenbakkers said, adding that the process after the asbestos work includes assessing the damage, seeking bids and working with the insurance company for a claim.

A proper evaluation of the structure awaits removal of the upstairs floor tiles, and only then can the floorboards be examined, Steenbakkers said. The historic wool carpet downstairs must also be evaluated to see if and/or how much needs to be replaced.

Members of the community have been generous in offering their assistance, Steenbakkers said.

“People are asking if there’s anything they can do to help,” he said, “but we don’t know what we’re working with and what we’re up against. I’m sure there will be opportunities down the road.”

He noted that the water line feeding the long unoccupied offices upstairs has been totally cut off.

In the meantime, the theater is closed, and no movies are scheduled for the foreseeable future.