A quote from Slechta Masonry, of Denison, in the amount of $48,500 was approved Tuesday by the Denison City Council to repair the deteriorating foundation at Norelius Community Library.
Council members were told, however, that the cost could be higher if it is discovered that an inside foundational wall has also deteriorated.
The part of the foundation that is deteriorating is from the original Carnegie Library, which opened in 1904.
City Manager/City Engineer Terry Crawford said the amount of the quote was an estimate as it only pertained to the replacement of the visible brick, or one wythe (a continuous vertical section of masonry, one masonry unit thick). He said the foundation has at least two wythes, and the brick in the inner wall might also have deteriorated.
Slechta Masonry provided a quote of an additional $75 per square foot if they have to replace sections of an inner foundation wall.
Slechta’s quote was based on 320 square feet of visible deteriorated brick, and Crawford said the contractor would be paid on the number of square feet that is replaced.
The council agreed with Crawford that Slechta did not have to submit a performance bond because it is a well-known local contractor. Requiring the bond would have raised the cost by $2,500.
“Normally, for a performance and material payment bond, we require them on large projects but may also require that from out-of-town contractors we’re not familiar with,” Crawford said. “Slechta Masonry has been here for many years.”
Slechta was the only contractor to submit a quote although a number of contractors in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska had been contacted. Only two contractors, Slechta and Bernholtz Masonry, of Carroll, asked for plans. Bernholtz did not submit a quote.
Crawford said he felt good about the effort made in the procurement process, pointing to the number of contractors that were contacted.
“We are under the threshold requiring competitive quotations, so we’re fine with one quote, even though if we were above $57,000, I still think we met the made a good faith effort to get more than one quote,” he explained
He believes the nature of the project was a reason for less interest. Sections of foundation only two to three feet wide could be removed at one time and the work has to be done in the confined spaces of a boiler room.
Councilman Corey Curnyn offered that the mobilization expense may also have been a deterrent.
The problem with the foundation brick was discovered nearly a year and a half ago. Library Director Monica Walley reported at the July 17, 2018, council meeting about damage found on a wall when the steps to the original Carnegie Library were being repaired, and at the next council meeting two weeks later she presented photographs of damage to the foundation walls.
At first the problem was believed to be originating on the exterior of the building, and an estimate put the repairs at $225,000. After the Public Works Department dug a 10-foot-deep hole to allow the city manager and a structural engineer to inspect the foundation, it was determined that the moisture was originating from the inside. On August 6 last year, Crawford told the city council that he and the structural engineer found that a cementive coating about one-half inch thick was used to cover the exterior of the foundation, covered with a bituminous weather proofing.
He said it was believed that the moisture in the interior is originating from sweat or condensation in the mechanical room. In addition, a floor drain is located in that room. A recommendation was to put dehumidifiers in the mechanical room and to get a final report from the structural engineer and seek proposals from contractors.