A cost-cutting decision more than a dozen years ago by the city of Glenwood Springs not to take an engineer’s advice regarding construction of the city’s Municipal Operations Center (MOC) on Wulfsohn Road is now costing the city nearly $2.5 million in foundation and structural repairs.
City Council last week awarded a contract to MW Golden Constructors out of Castle Rock to do the repairs, which were made necessary by settling of the building’s foundation since it was constructed in 2002.
According to Dave Betley, the city’s assistant public works director, that settling has accelerated over the last three years to the point where light can now be seen through some of the cracks in the cinder-block walls. The building’s structural support is also being compromised in places, he said.
Betley said a geotechnical study done when the building was being designed in 2000 recommended a deep foundation system with pilings, in anticipation of settling from the unstable soils and frequent moisture saturation that define the alluvial fan area on the northern flank of Red Mountain.
“A footer foundation was discussed in the [engineers] report but was not recommended,” Betley noted in a memo prepared for the council to consider in deciding whether to proceed with the work.
At that time, however, city leaders chose the footer system in an attempt to control upfront costs to build the MOC.
The 29,786-square-foot MOC, which houses the city’s electrical department, parks maintenance, vehicle fleet and other divisions, was built in 2002 for a little over $6.5 million with an expected lifespan of about 25-30 years, Betley said.
Given the rapid deterioration, though, that lifespan could be cut short by about 10 years without the repairs, he said, adding the other option would be to plan for the replacement of the facility before the damage gets to the point where the building is unsafe.
“Employees working at the MOC have expressed concerns for their safety … [especially] those stationed within the building for their eight-hour day,” Betley said.
“We’re basically looking at a $90-per-square-foot fix,” City Councilman Todd Leahy said. “We can’t replace it for that.”
But let it be a warning to current and future city leaders not to cut corners when the result could be structural defects and compromised safety, Leahy added.
“I’m not knocking past councils, but listen to your engineers, and when they say you should do something, you should probably do it,” he said.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which built the bus barn for its regional transportation on the same hillside about the same time as the city’s MOC was built, has also had to make significant repairs to its building in recent years.
“It’s a terribly unfortunate situation, but it has deteriorated to the point where safety is a factor for our workers who are out there in that facility,” Mayor Leo McKinney said.
ICE RINK RENOVATION OK’D
City Council also agreed at its May 1 meeting to proceed with a $1 million project to build restroom and locker room facilities at the Glenwood Springs Community Center ice rink.
The project is being supported by a $270,000 Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District grant that was awarded last year.
Council heard from supporters of the Glenwood Grizzlies Youth Hockey program and adult leagues who said the facilities are sorely needed, and not only will benefit local hockey players but will allow the city to attract tournaments.
“Unlike the MOC, this is something that will provide long-term benefit to the city,” Gamba said.
Added Councilman Leahy, “If you want to do something for economic development, this is it.”