Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More DPW follies

It's bad enough that maybe 1/3 of DPW's truck driver / operators are missing in action daily, and the city's Department of Public Works is just getting around to dealing with the problem (sick leave use started going up nine years ago -- sort of a Katrina-like response, no?)

DPW Commissioner Jeff Mantes' reaction to the City Hall foundation project, though -- "it was in a previous budget, so it's not news" -- makes one wonder what the coffee at DPW has been laced with. (Memo to Mantes: Jeff -- news is not what you, as DPW commissioner, know about what DPW is doing.)

Mantes' insistence that the project wasn't worth attention was bad enough, but his assertion that this exact project has been in the city budget for several years is somewhat ludicrous. First, the project wasn't mentioned in the 2007 budget. Second, the previous descriptions of the project are vastly different than the description contained in the 2008 proposed budget.

The 2002-11 capital improvements plan (posted with the 2006 budget) described it thusly:

City Hall Hollow Walk Replacement: Funding in the 2006–2011 Capital Improvements Plan totals $12.7 million for the replacement of the hollow sidewalks around City Hall. Due to the expected construction timeline of the City Hall Restoration Program, the walks could not be replaced until restoration of the building is nearly complete or completed. Initial funding for this project will occur in 2008. This project addresses the structural deterioration of the hollow, vaulted sidewalks around City Hall and includes funding for the necessary structural analysis, removal of the hollow walk, foundation repairs, membrane water proofing, and sidewalk and hollow walk replacement.

(In 2004 the project price tag was put at $6 million. Darned that inflation!)

In the 2008 proposed budget, even the project name is different:

City Hall Foundation and Hollow Walk Repairs: This project will commence upon completion of the City HallRestoration Project. Ongoing investigation has found significant foundation settling, particularly on the threesides of the northern half of the building. City Hall was built on a foundation of wood pilings as was common inthe late 1890s. Some of the pilings have been deteriorating, a substantial contributor to the settling that has occurred. Work to repair and underpin the existing pile caps and install monitoring wells is necessary to correct this condition. In conjunction with the foundation work, the sidewalks, hollow sidewalk areas, and the associated interior walls will be repaired and restored. The 2008 proposed capital budget includes $1.2 million to conduct a detailed evaluation to determine condition changes since the last analysis in mid-2004. Considerable project risk exists due to the large portion of the foundation that is buried and not directly observable. After work is complete, the building’s foundation is expected to perform its support function into the long-term future.

OK, the word "foundation" is in both descriptions. Guess that's what Mantes meant. Emphasis, scope and "significant" settling must not count.

No comments: