Budget cuts could stall Kinkead demolition | NevadaAppeal.com

Budget cuts could stall Kinkead demolition

Published Caption: Nevada

Despite the fervent hopes of state workers who once had offices there, the Kinkead building may survive a few more years.

While no decisions have yet been finalized on budget cuts, the $1.5 million cost to demolish Kinkead is what Public Works Manager Gus Nuñez admits is “low hanging fruit.” After all, he pointed out, it really doesn’t cost the state to delay demolition of the structure.

“It’s not costing us anything sitting there,” he said Wednesday.

Even the governor cited the Kinkead project as the kind of one-shot item that could be cut from this year’s spending.

Nuñez said until that decision is made, he is proceeding with plans to seek bids for Kinkead’s destruction some time next spring.

He said when the building is taken down, it could be either by dismantling or by implosion.

A large number of employees have said they favor an implosion to collapse the building because they want to watch. Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden said he and hundreds of other state employees who worked there would happily pay $20 a ticket for a lottery chance to push the plunger that blows it up.

Nuñez said originally it looked like it would have to be imploded because the equipment to dismantle a six-story building wasn’t available in Western Nevada. Since then, it has become available.

If Public Works is told to go forward with the demolition, the bid documents won’t specify how to do it, he said. The state would simply pick the low bid.

Nuñez said Kinkead is one of a number of public works projects that will have to be considered as the governor makes budget cuts in January.

He said he has given recommendations, including advice on the impact each reduction would have, to help the governor make those decisions but that no final decisions have been made.

He declined to say specifically what his recommendations are.

Kinkead has been vacant since January when the last state workers transferred to new offices. It is boarded up and dark with only the fire and alarm systems still operating to warn of break-ins or fire.

At one point, more than 350 state employees occupied the building. Workers complained for years about Kinkead’s sagging floors – some as much as six inches in a single room – chunks of concrete falling from ceilings, leaky windows and other safety hazards.

Former Buildings and Grounds Administrator Mike Meizel described the building as the worst structure the state ever built, saying he tried for years to get it condemned.

Lawmakers and the governor’s office finally acted in 2005 after a series of earthquakes rattled the building.

That threw a bright light on an engineering report done three years earlier, which said a quake could collapse Kinkead, causing its floors to drop on top of each other like a stack of pancakes.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.

At a glance

A large number of state employees have said they favor an implosion to collapse the building because they want to watch.