The sanctuary of St. Michael’s Catholic Church has been deemed unsafe by city building officials who believe the foundation may have been compromised.
Glen Black, community development director for the City of Delta, said the city was alerted to the problem by church members.
In early August, building inspector Dan Reardon visited the site and observed where trenches had been dug in the basement at some point, to make access easier. That left portions of the foundation without any reinforcement.
“We couldn’t say it’s safe to occupy,” Black said. The church was asked to close the sanctuary until a structural engineer could be brought in for an assessment.
Deacon Price Hatcher of St. Michael’s said the property was inspected by professionals six months ago. Monitors to measure the movement of the foundation showed historic weak points, but no recent activity. While there are issues that must be addressed, Deacon Hatcher said there is “no material risk of catastrophic failure.”
The deacon, who retired after a 35-year career in engineering, said the church will conduct a professional assessment to determine if there is really an issue.
“We don’t want to be in conflict with the city,” Deacon Hatcher said, “but we do hope to demonstrate the building is safe. Our utmost concern is the safety of our congregation. We would never put them in harm’s way.”
The closure does not affect church offices, St. Joseph Hall (which houses the gym and kitchen) or the Delta Food Pantry. The problem is confined to the oldest part of the church, which was built at the corner of 8th and Meeker at the turn of the century.
“If we can’t demonstrate to the city that the issue they perceive is not there, we will be looking at long-term solutions,” Deacon Price added.
The congregation will be meeting in St. Joseph Hall until the issue is resolved. On Sunday, Deacon Hatcher planned to explain all that’s transpired and assure church members that leadership is working diligently to address the city’s concerns. “We’re being very proactive in adressing this issue,” he said.