November 7, 2001
Delays beset Aurora fire
By Hal Dardick, special to the Chicago Tribune
In recent months, water has damaged the
Aurora Regional Fire Museum five times, further delaying
completion of its renovation, a city official said.
City spokesman Bill Catching blamed John Edward Construction
of Downers Grove, the company that is renovating the
building, for the damage. The city plans to submit a claim
to the company's insurance agent, he said.
Jim Feld, the company's construction manager, contends the
bulk of the damage was caused by a July storm. He says the
city's insurance should cover the damage.
Water entered the building through temporary flashing on
skylights three times during heavy rains in July and August,
Catching said. Broken indoor sprinkler heads caused damage
two other times, he added.
Feld, however, said nearly all of the damage was caused in
late July when construction crews made a hole in the roof to
install steel for a dome, then temporarily covered the
opening with a tarp. Winds above 40 m.p.h. shredded the
tarp, allowing rain to come in, Feld said.
"In a windstorm like that, it just didn't hold," Feld said.
"I'm not sure what, if anything, we could have done
differently that would have changed the outcome."
Damage from the broken sprinkler heads was minimal, and
leaks through the skylight flashing allowed more water onto
already damaged surfaces, Feld said.
Hardwood floors on the second floor of the building at 53 N.
Broadway Ave. sustained water damage. "I believe the
hardwood floors are irreparably damaged on the second
floor," Catching said. "How do you value that?"
Feld said the damaged floors were not original, but the
original floors were found beneath them. Whether they can be
salvaged is not yet known, he said.
Meanwhile, John Edward Construction hopes its insurance
company and the city can sort out which policy covers the
damage. "Hopefully, in the next few days, that can get
settled, and what's damaged can get repaired relatively
quickly," Feld said.
When the City Council awarded a $755,000 renovation contract
to John Edward Construction in March, it expected work to be
completed by October.
Architects discovered support beams needed to be repaired,
costing an additional $107,000, bringing the total project
cost to $862,000, not including architectural fees.
Most of the work is being paid with a $750,000 Illinois
FIRST grant. Additional costs will be borne by the city.
The extra structural work was partly responsible for the
delay in completion, "but not enough to be at the point we
are now," Catching said. He said city officials hope to
reopen the museum by spring. Feld said he expects the work
to be done in May or June.
Catching said John Edward Construction used the same
superintendent for the museum renovation and the historic
Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville, another project that
has been plagued by delays.
City officials asked that a construction superintendent be
dedicated solely to the museum work, and John Edward
Construction complied, which improved the pace of work,
Feld, however, said a full-time construction superintendent
was not needed in the project's early stages, when work was
minimal. He also said his firm still awaits architectural
drawings from Dubuque, Iowa-based Durrant Group Inc., a firm
the city hired.
Without those drawings of the front facade, which Feld
described as "75 percent of the project," the renovation
cannot be completed, he said.
The Regional Fire Museum opened 11 years ago. It houses
antique firefighting equipment and displays photographs and
articles about local firefighting history, all of which have
been farmed out to other locations during the
Kendall County officials in August blamed a delay in the
$2.8 million rehabilitation of the courthouse on John Edward
Construction. Originally scheduled to be complete by July 4,
the opening was pushed back to Labor Day, then postponed
Drywall and carpeting damage at the courthouse recently
caused by heavy rains had nothing to do with the work of
John Edward Construction, County Board member Bill Cote
Cote last week said he expected construction on the
courthouse to be completed within two weeks.