Hansville Church building hasn’t got a prayer

HANSVILLE —  Normally, a bright orange condemnation tag posted on the outside of a well-used building isn’t a welcome sign.

But for the Hansville Community Church Pastor Greg Uvila, it is helping energize and motivate his congregation to move forward with plans for bigger facilities.

The church’s office and youth center were recently tagged as unsafe for occupancy and closed due to large cracks found within the masonry sections of the building. The structure, which served as North Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s Hansville fire station until the late 1990s, was leased by the church the past several years.

The two entities had been working together recently to allow the church to purchase the building from the fire district and as a part of this process, decided to have an independent structural engineer inspect the building.

During the late April inspection, structural cracks were found within youth center (which was the fire station’s apparatus bay and is made of concrete blocks) and were brought to the attention of the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office. The Fire Marshal passed the report to the Kitsap County Department of Community Development for further investigation. Code Enforcement Supt. Steve Mount inspected the building and found the cracks to be significant and posted the building as an unsafe structure.

After discussions with the engineer, the county decided to “error on the side of caution,” primarily for seismic purposes, Mount said, and tagged both the office and the youth center.

But if there are additional studies of the building, the county could revise its posting, Mount said.

Fixing the problem would include applying for a building permit and repairing or altering the building — such as demolishing the unsafe portion and rebuilding it, Mount said.

However, the cost of the repairs would be too much for this small country church and, as a result, it has stepped out of the purchasing process, Uvila said.

“They are frustrated we are pulling out but they understand,” Uvila said. “To credit (NKF&R commissioner) Leon Thomas and (former NKF&R commissioner) Red Denson, they worked really hard to try and get that property in our hands and, again, treat us very well and do what was right for the community.”

Despite the fact that the deal didn’t pan out, Uvila believes the recent chain of events has energized his congregation to get started on its master plans for its 19-acre property on Hansville Road, just northeast of Pegasus Lane.

“There is a little bit of a silver lining in the mix of the clouds,” Uvila said. “God is up to something good and we’re just trying to get a feel for it.”

Uvila said the plans are to construct a new church and facilities on the Hansville Road property and keep the existing chapel in downtown Hansville, which is next to the condemned building.

“Our goal and vision is to continue to operate off that corner as well as develop the (Hansville Road) property,” he said.

Uvila is adamant about the chapel remaining where it is because the congregation has every legal right to be there, he said, especially since the community church has been around since the 1930s. The idea is to appeal to the pioneers of Hansville with the chapel at the traditional location while generating interest from the younger generation with the newer facility.

As for what happens next with the condemned buildings, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Dan Smith said the agency’s fire commissioners have not come to a decision yet whether to fix the cracks or tear down the old apparatus bay.

“There are all sort of options that could take place,” added NKF&R spokesperson Michéle Laboda. “Our No. 1 concern is whatever happens with the building, obviously it’s done in a manner that preserves life safety — that’s our business.”

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