by Dan Barton, Publisher of The New Harmony Gazette

December 6, 2017


Back at the end of August a team of experts quietly converged on New Harmony. They came to evaluate what they described as the, “Two prominent structures contributing to the character of the community, and are in jeopardy of being lost if they do not receive investment. The first prominent structure is the former New Harmony School… The other prominent structure is the former New Harmony Toll Bridge, which closed in 2012 due to funding issues.”

“The purpose of this gathering, this Charrette, was to breathe immediate life into the vision for the school and bridge, and align priorities to overcome the remaining challenges of ownership and acquiring additional funding.”

While we have not at this time come to the point where the Working Men’s Institute has decided whether to take title to the former New Harmony School, I decided to pose some questions to Fred Frayser, president of the WMI Board of Trustees. What follows are my questions and Fred’s responses:

DAN BARTON – After reading the summary of the Charrette session that took place in this past August, I am left with some questions. Actually, some of the same questions I have had all along. I plan to do an article on this project in the upcoming New Harmony Gazette and wondered if you could fill in some blanks that keep plaguing my progress.

Cost is the main obstacle. It seems that the Charrette Team has come up with more costs than I had imagined. They also identify steps in the process of reaching your goals. I would like to see what your thoughts are on these two areas. I will start with the costs, although the costs will bring us back to the steps.

The first cost on Charrette summary is the first cost on most of our minds, and that’s the mold remediation. This was not foreseen by those of you at WMI when you initially decided to take on this challenge but was a gift from the current and previous Town Councils. Do we have a solid number on what the remediation will cost us at this point and how much the clean-up is going to be? Could you give me those amounts?
HVAC – the same question primarily. What has to be done? and what’s it going to cost?

FRED FRAYSER – According to Harshaw Trane, the company that did the original install, there is a leak in one side of the system that contains the Freon. The leak will need to be repaired, Freon will be pressurized, and the cooling tower will be descaled. The estimated cost for the repairs is about $9,500. The service man thinks the cooler will be good for at least another three to five years with this work.

DAN BARTON – The cost estimate of the suggested new key fob system-What is that system’s cost?

FRED FRAYSER – The key fob system is in use in one of the facilities represented in the charter work. It was in use at New Harmony School as well. The estimated cost of installation is $15,000. The system allows access and hours for those authorized to use the facility. For instance, you might have approval to use the building from 6am until 9pm so you would be allowed access during those times. Mine might only be from 8 am until 6 pm.

DAN BARTON – Building Insurance Costs?

FRED FRAYSER – The company handling WMI’s insurance quoted costs at $9,000 per year unless there is a deep frying unit in the kitchen. That would have additional cost.

DAN BARTON – Grounds Equipment Costs?

FRED FRAYSER – The Charrette budget estimates $60,000 for equipment. This would include a tractor with mowing deck, plow, and blade. It would also include a smaller riding mower and a push mower or two. Hoses, shovels, hoes, hand tools, seeds, plants, and soil amenities would be included as well.

DAN BARTON – Do you have anyone in mind as a Property or Facility Manager?

FRED FRAYSER – Some discussion of the type of individual has been held but there is no one in mind at this time. The position qualifications would be advertised at the appropriate time.

DAN BARTON – There is a lot of renovation suggested by the Charrette Team, as you can see from page 14, so no need for me to retype that list. How much of that will have to be initiated in the beginning and what are the estimated costs?

FRED FRAYSER – The remediation and renovation of the public spaces would be done following the repair of the cooling system. That amounts to approximately $375,000. The chiller is about $10,000. The security is $15,000. Kitchen renovation is mostly covered by the Regional Cities Grant and amounts to $60,000. At that point, the building should be certified as healthy for occupancy.

DAN BARTON – I see from their outline that they have it broken down into Immediate, Short Term, Mid Term and Long Term. They have suggested the hiring of Community Catalyst Manager, Executive Director and Commission of In Residence Artists. Also a Grant Writer. How much of this hiring do you see as necessary and feasible? You have had a great deal of experience in managing School and Library facilities here in New Harmony, do you agree with what they have outlined? Is there another option, such as volunteers?

FRED FRAYSER – The Community Catalyst and Executive Director will be essential to the success of the program. The Residence Artist will be another grant position and will become a reality when a grant is received. The grant writer will become part of the team when the

$15,000 in funding is available. All of the positions will have contributions to the overall development and success of the program.

Volunteers will become an important part of the overall program. As tenants are secured rooms will need to be painted and ceilings installed. Grounds will need to be prepared, planting will need to take place, cultivation and watering of crops will become more important, harvests and marketing will guarantee success. All of those tasks can be accomplished with volunteer help in addition to the small staff that will be available.

DAN BARTON – Buried at the end of the Phase 3 Long Term Section is Secure Tenants/Launch Programming Elements. Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t this be something that would require Immediate attention along with securing Immediate Funding?

FRED FRAYSER – I believe that portion of securing funding refers to additional funding that will be avail able through donors or grants to expand and continue any programs in operation at that time. Initially, securing tenants will be a priority until the building is fully occupied.

DAN BARTON – Have we secured any solid funding and how much? Have we secured any Tenants and who?

FRED FRAYSER – The Regional Cities money and a few donations have been secured. That amounts to approximately $155,000. A promise of another $500,000 remains active. The goal is to secure at least another $500,000 in order to ask for the property to be transferred to WMI.

Since WMI does not own the property at this time, no tenant has signed an agreement to occupy any of the facility. There is interest from a few to be among the first tenants but I have been asked not to identify them until a lease is signed.

DAN BARTON – I realize that you may not want to answer some of these questions but it would be helpful if you could answer as many as you feel comfortable answering. Thanks Fred.

FRED FRAYSER – The responses are from me and are based on the best knowledge available at this time. I have another meeting on Wednesday with Stuart to formalize the priorities and the timeline. The budget will then be categorized to match the priorities and presented to the Trustees for their approval.

Participants in the August Charrette were : New Harmony Town Council President Alvin Blaylock; Lora Arneberg of Visit New Harmony; Kenyon Bailey of the WMI; Fred Frayser, President WMI; Nathan Maudlin, WMI; Stuart Lowry, Facilitation Leader/Indiana Economic Development Corp.; Shane Bivens, Vesuvius Co-working; Wendy Dant Chesser, One Southern Indiana; Don Colvin, Indianapolis Parks and Recreation; Greg Harger, Indiana Invaders; Haley James, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group; Leslie Power, Educational Programming; Kristin Riga, Flatland Resources; Corey Sharp, Purdue Polytechnic Anderson; Scott Siefker, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group; Ron Taylor, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group and Luke Waltz, Taylor Siefker Williams Design Group.

Without going into the whole discussion about what happened at the Town Hall Special meeting

on Monday morning December 4th, the gist of it was that Fred Frayser and Dr. George Rapp came as the bearers of some unhappy news. Dr. Rapp announced formally that one of the two potential donors to the WMI MacLure project had pulled out on his commitment to donate

$500,000, that was Jeremy Efoymson. Dr. Rapp, who had also committed to donate $500,000 has put his contribution on hold.

In Dr. Rapp’s case it seems the tilting point was the amount of money that needs to be committed on the project to do a full clean up of the New Harmony School and eradicate any vestige of the mold that was allowed to grow in the building. We all know that due to the present and previous Town Councils lack of oversight, the building had been sealed in the summer months without running the HVAC and over a quarter million dollars in mold damage was done inside. The actual amount according to Fred Frayser is around $300,000 left to complete that project.

Dr. Rapp made it clear that he would release the hold on $500,000 if the Town agreed to cover half the $300,000 in remediation expenses. Councilman Roger Wade, knowing that $150,000 in one year could be a deal breaker, suggested that perhaps Dr. Rapp might consider releasing his donation if the Town was able to do it over a three year period. Knowing that it will cost upwards of $500,000 just to raze the school structure if the WMI deal fell through.

Dr. Rapp agreed to Councilman Wade’s suggestion, if the Council approved. The Town Council agreed to table the matter for further review and come back with an answer at the next scheduled Town meeting on December 19th.

FOOTNOTE: The City County Observer posted this article without bias, opinion or editing.