UF's old building to be Alachua's new center


This 1950s-era farm building, at the University of Florida dairy farm in Hague, is being donated to the city of Alachua for use as a community center. The building will be taken apart and moved to a site in Alachua.

JIM MATTHEWS/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, September 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 31, 2003 at 11:55 p.m.
The University of Florida is getting rid of a building at its Hague research dairy and an Alachua neighborhood is getting a community center - all thanks to some recycling matchmaking.
The heart pine building is 48 by 24 feet and has been used for storage of farm equipment at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences dairy. It is such a finely made building that dairy maintenance supervisor Mike Wigglesworth didn't want it destroyed when it was decided the building was no longer needed.
"It's a solid building. I hated to tear it down," Wigglesworth said. "I think it was built in the 1950s and I don't know what it was used for originally. You can't duplicate this lumber and if I had to tear it down I'd rather see it rebuilt somewhere else by somebody who could use it."
That's how the Alachua connection got started. Brad Guy of the Powell Center for Construction and Environment at UF was contacted about possibly recycling the lumber if it was torn down.
The Powell Center is primarily a research organization aiming to solve environmental problems associated with building and construction. It also is involved with the de-construction of buildings - carefully dismantling them to preserve the materials for reuse.
Guy said the center was called about the dairy building. Alachua city officials also called about possibly helping with some abandoned houses the city wanted to demolish. Through that, Guy learned that the city also was interested in building a community center.
"We put the two together. UF had a problem - they just wanted to get rid of the building," Guy said. "The building is in great shape. If we had deconstructed it, it would have been a mother lode, but it is so much better leaving it together."
City Planning Director Laura Dedenbach said the building will be moved to a neighborhood off County Road 241 north of U.S. 441. It will need some work, including windows and plumbing at the least.
The only cost to the city will be moving it to a city-owned lot. Dedenbach said the City Commission has allocated $9,000 for hauling it to town and building a foundation.
Dedenbach said the move probably will not occur for a few months. She said meetings will be held with neighbors to help decide how the building will be renovated and for what it will be used.
"We will work with the community to remodel it. We have a plan to do certain things with the property that will involve the community, like the possibility of a community garden. This is very much a community project," Dedenbach said. "Events can be held there - anything from an after-school program to community meetings."
Guy said recycling buildings and saving buildings by moving them is increasing nationwide.
The practice is environmentally beneficial because it saves resources such as wood and energy. It also keeps waste out of landfills.
Construction and demolition industries produce 136 million tons of waste a year in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Only 8 percent of the waste is from new construction.
Meanwhile, recycling building components can reduce that waste by as much as 75 percent, noted the EPA Web site.
"What you are comparing is the low cost of mechanical demolition - basically crushing and disposing of it - against avoiding the waste that goes to the landfill and continuing the value and life of the materials," Guy said.
"You can create a product rather than a waste."
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com.

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