Water damage makes Lincoln House future uncertain
The city may have to re-evaluate the future of the Lincoln House after the building sustained significant water damage from a burst water pipe Jan. 23. Mayor Bill Bialecki said the cost for cleanup and restoration could run into six figures. The damage will be covered by insurance, but Bialecki said the city needs to decide whether the building is worth repairing.
Two water pipes under a sink in a vacant third floor apartment burst overnight Jan. 23, sending a massive stream of water cascading over the bottom two floors in the Lincoln House. According to The Patriot WJMT Radio, whose studios are on the ground floor of the Lincoln House, water was pouring out to the front door only to freeze on the bottom three steps of the inside front entrance. Parts of the lobby were almost ankle deep on the first floor.
Bialecki said power had been shut off to the vacant apartment. Repair workers found a window in a previously secured area was open, allowing frigid temperatures into the building and causing the water pipes to freeze and break.
The city called in a restoration company to clean up the water and associated damage. Flood and water damage specialists RestorU of Appleton has been on the scene since the flooding was discovered. They wrapped up the work of cleaning up the water and ventilating walls and ceilings this week.
The city had purchased the Lincoln House at 120 S. Mill St. with the intention of facilitating rehabilitation and redevelopment of the building. However, an interested would-be developer narrowly missed receiving competitive funding from WHEDA. WHEDA has since changed their criteria for funding, which makes the Lincoln House a less likely project.
“We’re going to wait until we meet with our insurance company to determine what to do,” Bialecki said. “We might decide to take it down.”
The Patriot stayed on the air right through the flooding. Station Operations Manager Jim Medley estimated $20,000 in damage to the station’s computers and equipment, and that cost could rise as high as $60,000, he said.
Despite the flooding, Medley was able to cobble together vital computer gear to keep The Patriot on the air.
“I was standing in an inch of water doing the show on that Wednesday morning,” Medley said. “The computer that keeps us on the air had water running out of it. I’m very proud of the fact that we were not knocked off the air.”
He said he appreciates the community’s support as the station was working through the water damage.
“The listeners and businesses in town have been incredible with their support,” he said. “Local radio stations exist to serve the community and I take that very seriously.”
The station is taking inventory of everything damaged by the flooding for insurance purposes.
“We’re still waiting to see the city’s insurance agent,” Medley said. “Our insurance company is involved, working on our behalf to recover damages from the city.”
The Patriot has been in the Lincoln House since 1994, and has had previous problems with the building.
“We would love to find a new building, but it would be a monumental task to move with the miles of wiring we have,” Medley said.