Renovation woes plague library



July 31, 2010 - 12:00 AM

The news went from bad to worse for Iola Public Library at Friday’s special meeting of city commissioners.
The meeting was called for by Roger Carswell, library director, to request $3,450 to replace two malfunctioning roof drains that are blamed for recent flooding to the main reading room and office space of the library.
The library is in the first of a two-phase reconstruction project.
“Up until now, things have been proceeding well,” Carswell said of the work.
Mayor Bill Maness and Commissioner Bill Shirley, however, were not impressed.
“If this is Phase I, I don’t want to see Phase II,” Shirley said.
Commissioner Craig Abbott did not attend the meeting.

THE DRAINS, it seems, are just the tip of the iceberg for what Maness and Shirley deemed as ineffective management and the shirking of responsibility in the  $840,000 renovation project.
First of all, the renovation lacks an on-site project supervisor.
General Services Corp. of Oswego, general contractor for the project, routinely sends a representative every two weeks for oversight meetings, Carswell said.
“Two weeks seems a long time to go between meetings, especially when you’re having problems,” Shirley said.
Hans Fischer, Lawrence, is the project’s architect and he, too, makes it to town every two weeks.
Subcontractors are Comfort Contractors, Chanute, for electrical work, Don Murray of Iola’s D&R Plumbing, and Allied Roofing Systems of Joplin, Mo.
Carswell, a librarian, has been given responsibility for much of the dealings with these entities.
The problems began when recent rains poured through an incomplete roof. To make matters worse, new carpeting, new wood trim, new lighting fixtures and ceiling tiles were all damaged by the onslaught.
“I asked what I’m sure you’re all thinking,” Carswell said, referring to what seems the logical sequence of events in a construction project. Protect from the outside elements first.
Carswell said he was told by a representative of General Services that in the two months he had been working there, no leaks had occurred in the roof so he gave the go-ahead for interior work to be done. The carpet was laid, light fixtures hung, walls painted, ceiling tiles installed.
Work on the roof began shortly after. Then the rains came.
The first, 2.81 inches, fell on June 16 before the new roof was completed, flooding the main reading room and office areas, warping the wood trim, damaging light fixtures.
Then, when the roof was complete, last Saturday’s 2-plus inches of rain came through again.
Allied Roofers contend two of four drains on the roof had been plugged by asphalt by previous roof construction, and thus they were not at fault for the leaks.
The roofers estimate they have two weeks left of work on the library. The lower-level roof has yet to be completed.
Carswell’s request for the $3,450 to replace the faulty drains was met with resistance by the commissioners.
The roof had never leaked before, they contended, so why now are the drains being blamed for the leaks? And if the drains were faulty, why were they not detected when the roofers installed the new roof?
Whatever the answer, city commissioners were not ready to take responsibility, saying it should be either the general contractor’s or the roofer’s for inspecting such things.

APART FROM the drains, a bigger problem exists pertaining to the roof — an extra $29,000 demanded by Allied for unexpected labor.
Allied contends that when it bid the project plans showed the roof was 4 inches thick. It was — when it was built in 1967. Since then two additional layers have been applied to the roof accruing to 12 inches of tar and asphalt.
Carswell said Allied’s tools could cut to a depth of only 5 inches, making removal of the roof more laborious.
Had the roofers taken a core sample of the roof before they bid the project, or at least before they began the job, they would have discovered its depth, was the consensus Friday.
“If they fell short on their responsibility, I can’t see how it’s our problem,” said Maness.
“Due diligence” on Allied’s part was not followed, was the opinion of Chuck Apt, Iola city attorney.
Jeff Bauer, Iola code enforcement officer, said he’s concerned about further leaking from the roof.
“If the new roof was installed and it still leaked, then I’m concerned that between the roof deck and the insulation there’s some moisture,” he said. “I hesitate to say there won’t be more damage.”
Bauer fears that the new roof was laid over decking and insulation that was still damp from the heavy rains and that now the moisture is sealed inside, “which will find a way out,” he said. “It’ll migrate to somewhere else and do damage to whatever is below it.”
The only way to remedy that, he said, is to start anew on the roof.

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