|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - June 2010
Copyright 2010 - Polk County Publishing Company
Courthouse completion set for January
Trinity Standard -
GROVETON – Changes approved by commissioners Monday will push the completion date for the Trinity County Courthouse back to early January 2011. During their meeting, Trinity County commissioners okayed 11 changes to the renovation project which has been underway at the courthouse for almost a year. While most of the changes were fairly minor, two items pushed the date for “substantial completion” back by 60 days. The “substantial completion” date is the point where the county can move back into the building, although there will be some minor construction work still underway. Overall, the 11 changes approved Monday added a total of $124,789 to the cost of the project, which is funded primarily through a grant from the Texas Historical Commission (THC). Architect Michael Gartner told commissioner that most of the changes approved Monday were being sought by THC and all of them would fall within the scope of the grant. Coupled with the $298,000 in changes approved earlier, the total price tag for the renovation work has risen to more than $5.1 million. THC initially award the county a $5 million grant to cover about 85 percent of the cost of the project and the county borrowed $1.6 million to fund the balance. When the original bid for the restoration work came in at $4.7 million, which was much lower than expected, THC officials reduced its grant allocation but said if changes caused the final price to rise they would restore money to the project. Gartner said Monday they probably would have to ask THC from some of those funds back before the work is completed. “We will now have only $47,000 remaining in the contingency fund if these changes are approved today,” he told commissioners, adding that figure would probably not be enough to cover additional changes that will be needed in the coming months. When County Judge Mark Evans expressed concern that future changes could “eat up” the remainder of county’s $1.6 million allocation, the architect said THC should cover the current and future changes at a rate of about 85 percent. Evans noted that when the county sold the $1.6 million, some of the money was earmarked for items that would not be covered by the THC grant, such as landscaping and a sprinkler system for the courthouse lawn. Stephanie White, the architectural firm’s project manager, outlined the 11 changes to commissioners on Monday. The most expensive item at $42,815 would cover the cost of waterproofing the parapet walls and fastening the cap stones to the walls. She noted the parapet walls surround the top of the two “wings” of the courthouse and that when construction crews began working there they discovered that the mortar joining the brinks had become soft and was crumbling away. White added they also discovered that the capstone on the top of the parapet walls had never been fastened to the wall and instead had just be laid at the top. “Frankly, I’m surprised that over the past 96 years that none of those stones have fallen. They are heavy, but they have been sitting lose up there for all these years,” Gartner said. White said they proposed to fasten the stones onto the wall using both mortar and 316 bar pins. While that was the most expensive change approved, it was not one that would cause a delay in the courthouse completion. The two that will delay the finish involve changes to the design of the second-floor district courtroom and the gutters and cornice metal work decorating the top of the courthouse. White noted changes in the design of the district courtroom – including the addition of bullet resistance materials around the judge’s bench – has caused the contractor to seek an additional 30 days on the contract. She noted the delay is being caused by the lead-time the contractor needs to order materials and design and install the changes. The cost of this item is listed at $26,701. An additional 30-day delay in completion was caused by unexpected work needed for the gutter system and the decorative cornices along the courthouse roof. While new metal gutters and cornices have already been ordered, White said when the old ones were removed, they discovered the wood to which they were fastened had rotted away. Gartner added the wood was in such bad shape that it would crumple like paper if someone grabbed it. To solve the problem, Gartner and White recommended that 200 metal brackets be installed to which the gutters and decorative cornices would be attached. “We also looked at using wood but learned it would be almost as expensive as having to make the metal brackets,” Gartner said. “And the galvanized steel brackets will last a whole lot longer than wood.” Cost of this design change was listed at $38,638, most of which would go toward the cost of having to manufacture the 200 metal brackets.