Core Drillings Underway Inside Robinson Grand

By Jim Davis, Staff Writer, The Exponent Telegram, July 15, 2015

CLARKSBURG- Geotechnical engineers began exploring the makeup of the soil beneath the auditorium of the former Robinson Grand Theatre.

CLARKSBURG — Geotechnical engineers began exploring the makeup of the soil beneath the auditorium of the former Robinson Grand Theater Monday. Engineers with Larson Design Group of Morgantown and core drillers with Test Boring Services of Washington, Pennsylvania, are expected to complete the interior core borings Tuesday.

“The purpose of the borings is to see if we could potentially put a basement under the theater,” said Orin Kincade, project manager for WYK Associates. A basement would allow for the expansion of dressing rooms currently beneath the stage and accommodate an orchestral pit and restrooms for people with disabilities, Kincade said.

Workers are drilling at six locations inside the West Pike Street landmark. Plans for a basement look promising, based on the first boring, said L. Jane Hicks, with Larson Design Group. A 10-foot dig would be necessary for a basement, and drillers went 15 feet before hitting weathered, or soft, rock, Hicks said. “Based on the first boring, it looks good for what they want to do,” she said. “The material we sampled would be easy for them to excavate.” But Hicks stressed there were five more core drillings to do.

Once the core drillings are completed, Larson Design Group will prepare an evaluation, complete with soil and bedrock findings and preliminary foundation recommendations, Hicks said. “It’s a little premature to say” it’s definitely doable at this point, she added. Last month, workers did core drillings outside the rear facade of the theater. Those drillings were to determine the feasibility of building a loading dock, a mechanical room and an exterior egress from the theater’s balcony, Kincade said.

The city purchased the Robinson Grand last year for $430,000. Restoring the former theater into a regional cultural facility is one of the city’s goals for reviving downtown. Through the Clarksburg Municipal Building Commission, the city is in the process of pursuing a $6 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finance the project. WYK Associates is heading up the design of the proposed restorations under a $1.4 million contract with the city.

The city is also paying Larson Design Group $17,500 for the geotechnical report. Larson Design Group subcontracted Test Boring Services to do the core drillings. Clarksburg Assistant City Manager Anthony Bellotte said city officials are looking forward to seeing what design the proposed restoration takes as a result of the core drillings. “We anticipate that the information that will be gathered will be an asset to WYK toward the overall design and the preparation of the construction bidding documents,” Bellotte said. “It will determine the extent of the new construction,” Bellotte added. “The construction of the basement is one of the bigger parts of this entire project.”

Staff writer Darlene Swiger contributed to this story. Staff writer Jim Davis can be reached at (304) 626-1446 or jdavis@theet.com. Staff writer Darlene Swiger can be reached at (304) 626-1403 or dswiger@theet.com

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