DOME DECISION DELAYED
June 20, 2000 11:00 pm

After listening to varying viewpoints, the Brookings-Harbor School Board Monday agreed that it should hold a workshop session before deciding on conventional or dome construction in a building program.

The board scheduled the meeting for Monday at 7 p.m. in the Azalea Middle School library. It will be conducted by Eugene architects Richard Bryant and Harriet Cherry.

They were engaged by the district for not more than $35,000 to make an objective analysis of dome and conventional construction. Their findings were reported a week ago during a public meeting. The results were questioned, however, when it was found they had made a major error in their analysis.

The two corrected the error during another report to the school board Monday, but had failed to convince everyone that they were objective or complete in their study.

Dr. Brian Larsson, school board chairman, said he has attempted to be objective in considering the domes, although his wife, Teri, has been an outspoken opponent. He agreed with the architects finding that conventional construction is superior.

The doctor said he could not place his name on a dome construction proposal to the voters unless the board decided otherwise.

The other board members had varying degrees of reservation, mainly because of the resistance of some of the people showed to the architects recommendation. The board members said they cannot afford a divided house if they are going to the voters in November.

Mary Van Hoesen, board member, said she has never been a dome fan, but added that she did not have enough information to make a choice between the domes and the conventional buildings.

Mary Anderson, who served on the bond committee that recommended domes, said she was not prepared to make a decision because of the uncertainty on the part of the public. She said it must fully understand the reason for the boards decision.

Board member Tom Davis made the motion to hold Mondays meeting. Anticipating a big crowd, he suggested it be held in the larger high school auditorium. But Dr. Paul Prevenas, district superintendent, doubted there would be that many people there. He didnt want to add to the workload of school custodians. The summer is their busiest time of the year as they perform maintenance on the buildings.

There were others who supported the architects findings, including Buzz Hansen, who is a structural engineer and has long been involved with the districts attempts to improve the school buildings.

Georgia Nowlin, a parent, and regular at school board meetings, said she likes domes, but prefers conventional buildings for the schools.

Larry Anderson, vice chairman of the bond committee, said he has concerns about dome buildings, but was not prepared to express them. Yet, he expressed concern about the architects possible failure to make an objective analysis. And, he expressed concern about the district losing the support of those who have worked on the proposal.

A builder with 29 years experience, and a former school teacher, Anderson has played a key role on the bond committee.

Ann Foelkl said she has family in northern Arizona who has attended and liked dome schools. She questioned why some domes couldnt be included.

Dr. Marian Boye, a member of the bond committee, was responsible for pointing the error out to the architects. The architects had used the Payson High School gym as a dome to compare to a hypothetical rectangular building. They said the Payson gym had a supporting stem wall around the bottom that meant about $400,000 more in cost. Actually, Dr. Boye pointed out, the gym had a walled facade around it. She also pointed out other inconsistencies, saying the conventional building was smaller than the Payson gym.

The architects said they made the error because they used a small, promotional photo to make their calculations. They admitted after the meeting that they never personally visited the domes. They said that was done by a consultant.

Despite the error, the consultants did not change their analysis. They said the large structures, such as the gym, might be a little less expensive. But, they maintained the smaller buildings, like the cafeteria, would be more expensive as domes.

The bond committee was interested in the district considering the use of domes. Anderson said it was because of the possible lower cost; Dr. Boye said it was because of the advantages they offered, such as not needing space for hallways.

The dome opponents, which included the architects, said they were concerned about the strength of the material that serves as dome rooms. It has to be treated every three to 10 years, which is more frequent than with conventional roofs. They worry about the vulnerability of the roof surfaces to vandals. And they are concerned about the problem of acoustics in the building. They quote dissatisfaction expressed by users of the buildings. The dome schools are common in Arizona, but there are none in Oregon. The opponents doubt the domes would do well in the rainy Oregon climate.

Proponents say the domes are the safest when it comes to enduring an earthquake or disaster.

During next Mondays meeting there will be discussion, and then the board is expected to hold a special meeting to make a decision on whether or not to use domes.

The architects to The Pilot Monday that they plan to revisit the recommendations made by the bond committee. They indicated they think the building committee sought to build a competition gym with too great a seating capacity. They said they will not be costing out the A and B plans proposed by the bond committee.