Ridge Community Church donates former Walmart structure to Greenfield

The metal structure garden center at the former Walmart store, located at 4500 S. 108th St, stands partially disassembled last week in Greenfield.

The metal structure garden center at the former Walmart store, located at 4500 S. 108th St, stands partially disassembled last week in Greenfield. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Feb. 5, 2013

Greenfield - Lots of people donate to a food pantry or thrift shop, but giving an entire building to a city is on a whole different scale.

The Ridge Community Church, which is renovating part of the former Walmart at 4500 S. 108th St., is giving Walmart's metal garden center building to the city of Greenfield, which is currently disassembling the structure and will reassemble it at the city's Department of Public Works yard.

"That was very nice of the church," said Dan Ewert, superintendent of public works, who had eyed the building ever since the city approved the church plans to transform the Walmart.

Welcome storage

The city could really use a nice big building to store all its lawn equipment in winter "so it's out of our way so there's more room to move around (in the DPW yard)," Ewert said. "We're tightly compacted."

Ewert envisions the building being stuffed in summer with salters and other blizzard-battling equipment. There even will be enough room left over for the Fire Department to store its Survive Alive house and maybe for Park and Rec to store its equipment, rather than having it outside in the elements, Ewert said.

The gift is probably worth $40,000 to $50,000, he said.

The prospect emerged while Ewert was doing some storm sewer work on the future church property last year. Ewert just happened to be talking to church officials and made the comment that if the church didn't want the building, "I'd be happy to take it off your hands."

To his amazement, they took him up on the offer.

Neighborly thing to do

In doing so, the church made a conscious decision to forego income from scrapping the all-metal building, said the Rev. Mark Weigt, the church's pastor.

"There are companies that pay good money for that material," he said.

But the church wanted to be a good neighbor and help the city much in the way it would help individuals.

"We felt we are there for the city, not the city is there for us," Weigt said. "We wanted to see if the city could use it. It could, so great."

Piecing back together

Ewert checked with Mayor Michael Neitzke and the project was on.

As of about two weeks ago, DPW workers have carved out time to take the garden center building apart piece by piece, each of which is numbered for reassembly at the DPW yard, 4551 S. 52nd St.

The galvanized metal building is long and narrow- 14 feet by 240 feet long- and has metal girders and trusses and aluminum siding and roof, Ewert said, noting that the city might have to custom-fit structure during reassembly.

"We might not be able to put the whole thing up," Ewert said.

If the snow holds off and the DPW workers don't have to plow, the building could be down this month, but it will probably take another six to eight weeks to rebuild it, depending on other DPW work that's more presssing, he said.

When it's done, the city and taxpayers should be pleased.

"We really want to stress this is a nice thing," Ewert said.

Not only will it be a boon to DPW operations, he said, "But we're recycling something somebody doesn't want."

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