Logan County Courthouse restoration specs planning underway and boilers restored

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[November 24, 2020] 

At the Logan County Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting Tuesday, November 17, the committee heard several updates on the courthouse restoration plans.

Project Manager Bill Walter of Masonry Restoration Technologies & Services, LLC gave updates on several plans being developed.

The Construction Technical Committee met both Monday, November 16 and Tuesday, November 17. Walter said that committee has brought together MRTS and CTS’s work and made a list of budget numbers for each category in general terms.

Next, Walter, Blankenship, and a few members of the Construction Technical Committee will go through the ‘scope of work’ list. They will determine what would be considered needed priorities. Walter said they will also look at prominent desires because of the monies involved.

The list would then be returned to CTS, the construction management group, to design and develop bid documents. Walter anticipates having all the scope of work items done within two weeks. By December, the bid specs should be developed and by early January, have the bids brought in. They hope to review the bids and make recommendations, which will be brought to the board for approval.

The dome restoration has been separated from the other work and Walter said they are hoping to accelerate that. Separate specifications and bid documents are being developed for the dome. Walter said the scaffolding around the dome should be encapsulated by mid-December. That way, work can be done in inclement weather.

By the second week of January, Walter said he is hoping they have secured a contractor and are ready to bring the contractor to the board for approval. The work on the dome should begin by the first part of February. This work has been budgeted.

CTS has completed a design agreement for phase one of the construction management contract. Walter said CTS will need an agreement for their design costs to bring together the bid documents for dome restoration. This agreement will be presented to the board for approval at their November 24 meeting.

Construction management for the dome restoration will require five major contracts for separate categories. Walter said the contract for the dome will be the first one. The second one may be plumbing and electrical. Walter and Blankenship will be developing the contracts in the next couple of weeks.

The performance contract is different from the construction management contract. Walter said the performance contract has all energy related items and will be brought forward by CTS in 30-45 days. CTS has been working on several items in the energy savings category. Walter and Blankenship will meet with CTS on Monday, November 23 to thoroughly discuss the HVAC renovation program. They will discuss what system will be utilized to provide the most benefits for the county. CTS will then do the design and bid documents.

As a whole, Walter said there is good progression on the restoration project. Many contractors are fighting for the livelihood. Some have the ability to perform work but not capacity. Walter said they need to find contractors who have the capacity to do the work.

It is not beneficial to go for the economic solution at the expense of the quality and long-lasting results. Therefore, Walter said it may be necessary to pay anywhere from five to eight percent more for work. In return, Walter said they will get a much more manageable project and less wrought with consistent failures. They will have solutions instead of facing issues later.

Walter’s initial focus is getting the dome restored and functional aspects of the work. Nice aesthetic pleasing aspects are what Walter said they can pick and choose from.

The bid documents will have an expanded list of alternates and Walter said they will look at which alternates make the most sense for the master project. Some items on the lists for restoration may be done later and not cause problems for the project.

The scope of the work needs to be done soon. Blankenship said they could redesign what comes in if the costs are too high and they do not like it.

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Budget numbers that have come in are between $9.4 and $10.4 million. Walter said it is a broader range than what had been brought in earlier. However, value engineering can be done, and some costs may be reduced.

Boiler repair update

The courthouse main boiler developed a significant water leak in October. Logan County Building and Grounds Committee Chairman David Blankenship initially reported the issue during the October board workshop. He went on to say that industry professionals condemned the boiler.

The initial report in October was particularly troublesome for Blankenship given that both courthouse boilers were down and a new HVAC system incorporating an independent system for each floor is planned as part of the restoration. Installing a temporary exterior rental boiler would cost upwards of $40,000 to install with monthly rental cost somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000

At that time, Blankenship said he had not personally inspected the boiler but planned to the following day to see what had failed and what if anything could be done. After Blankenship and Bill Walter of MRTS inspected the boiler, they found a cracked boiler section that could in fact be replaced at a much lower cost than installing temporary heat.

After completing a successful installation of the boiler section, Blankenship said numerous mechanical and electrical control issues were discovered that were preventing proper boiler function, the problems were corrected. In addition, the boiler was firing at full capacity all the time regardless of the demand.

Blankenship said the decision was made to two stage the boiler to improve energy efficiency. The second or “high” stage is frequently unnecessary to maintain steam pressure and temperature. He also said the boiler “high/low modulation control actuator system” initiates a substantial reduction in fuel usage by reducing the BTU from 3.1 million to around 900,000 BTUs. Even with this lower fuel usage, the boilers will have the same output.

Initially, Blankenship said estimates for the repairs were $5,400, and a later one came in at $4,500. Due to numerous defective components requiring replacement, the amount came out to be more than the initial estimates. The board approved up to $15,000 for the repairs, but Blankenship said it will be less than that even with the extra work that was necessary.

Instead of having to pay several thousand dollars a month for temporary heat, Walter said they were able to find someone who was able to rebuild the boiler and knew exactly what parts to use. As the company replaced some parts, Walter said they found other minor issues that affected the operation of the units and repaired them.

Some of the controls they found to be defective controlled temperature and pressure. Therefore, Blankenship said these controls are necessary for operational safety. With the various problems they found with the boiler, Blankenship said he is surprised a hazardous situation did not occur.

Walter said the system did not have the capacity to alert anyone of the problem.

In addition, Walter said they are looking at the boiler traps, which are individual items at each radiator. These traps will determine the heat that goes to various areas of the courthouse. Walter said they will get all the boiler traps functioning to get equal distribution of heat to all parts of the courthouse. A boiler trap would keep steam from coming through if frozen (stuck.)

Blankenship said that would save the county a tremendous amount of money.

A boiler trap survey is being done by a boiler service provider. Blankenship said it is through an energy grant program and will be no cost to the county. The survey will help identify other problems.

Due to improper function, the antiquated thermostat controls were removed. Blankenship said they were replaced by a simplified digital temperate control that should help reduce drastic temperature swings that seemed to occur.

The second boiler will be an emergency backup if the first one has problems.

[Angela Reiners]

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