Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward), who seems to have appointed himself as the fiscal watchdog for the police and court project, has repeatedly in the past few months fretted about the condition of the roof and made the dire prediction that it would need to be replaced--something that was not part of the project as it went to bid. The basis of Miah's prediction is unclear, since the architect, the construction manager, and the DPW superintendent all agreed the roof did not need to be replaced. Miah was vindicated on Tuesday when a change order to replace the roof came before the Common Council for approval.
The change order was requested by the general contractor for the project, J. C. Millbank Construction. Joe Rapp, the construction manager, attested that the roof did not leak during all the time that the City owned the building, and it does not leak now. He explained why the contractor was requesting a change order to replace the roof. The work involved in transforming 701 Union Street into the new police and court facility required several penetrations through the roof, and it is the contractor's responsibility to see that those do not leak. If the roof were to start leaking after the rehab was complete, it would be hard to determine if the leak was because of the contractor's work or the age of the roof.
Rapp, who said his job was "to make sure we don't spend one penny more than we need to spend," told the Council that he was not recommending a new roof, although he later acknowledged that "if money were not an issue, you would put on a new roof."
On the issue of money, City treasurer Heather Campbell explained that there was a contingency of $200,550 in the budget for the project. So far, $35,444 of that contingency has been committed. If the Common Council accepted all the change orders being proposed, including $49,000 to replace the roof, the total cost overrun would be $151,545. Campbell recommended that the roof be replaced now "to protect the investment below it."
First Ward aldermen Rick Rector and Michael O'Hara both expressed the opinion that the roof should be replaced now. O'Hara noted that it was a forty-year-old roof. "Given the opportunity we now have, when the building is empty, we should do it," said O'Hara. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) was less certain. "We don't have unlimited funds," said Friedman, "and we don't know how much we have." Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) asked Rapp, "Do you still feel good about the contingency?" Rapp said he did, confirming what he had said earlier about not expecting anymore change orders.
When approving the change order for the roof came to a vote, the outcome was 1,294 aye and 734 nay. Those voting aye were Council president Claudia DeStefano and aldermen Friedman, Haddad, Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward), O'Hara, Rector, and Lauren Scalera (Fourth Ward). Those voting nay were aldermen Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), and Miah.
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