Council, experts settle on strategy to fix basement leakage

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF

The bad news was that heavy rains over the Aug. 30-31 weekend exposed a seepage problem with the new brick ribbon along the west side of North Main Street.

The good news was the problem was exposed now rather than a year later when the project warranty would have run its course.

Two business owners on North Main attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Hillsboro City Council to listen to engineers and contractors from the downtown street renovation project talk about strategies for fixing a situation that allowed rain water to seep into the basement of their buildings.

The Hillsboro Hardware building may have absorbed the most. Co-owner Tom Koslowsky said he had up to 5 inches of water accumulate in the lower east end of the basement.

Fred David, owner of Elcon Electric, said the basement of his building also had seepage.

Bob Previtera, the city engineer from Reiss & Goodness Engineers, and Jim Ralston, representing the project contractor, APAC Kansas, theorized that water draining off store awnings such as the one at Hillsboro Hardware came through downspouts and gushed over the ribbon of brick in the sidewalk.

The heavy concentration of water seeped through the bricks and the fill sand beneath them. The water caused the sand to settle and fill in air pockets, which in turn enabled the water to migrate to basement walls that had not been exposed to water for decades.

The water also caused the ribbon of bricks to settle in spots. Tuesday, workers raised the bricks back to surface level by adding more sand.

Previtera suggested the city should give the situation time because the problem may have fixed itself with this incident. If there was a problem, the contractor could address it then.

But Koslowsky asked if, in the meantime, he and other building owners might have to contend with water in their basements.

City Administrator Steven Garrett suggested that rather than waiting for a big rain, the situation be tested as soon as possible with a water hose just in case “the next big rain comes next October.”

Ralston said he didn’t see any point in creating a rain scenario. He suggested instead that the fill sand around the bricks near the downspout areas be replaced with grout that would not wash out.

“We’re 95 percent sure that will take care of it,” Ralston said, adding that rain water might leak through grout, but it would not run through it.

Ralston said he thought adding the grout in the affected spots would cost less than $500, though he preferred that the company that laid the bricks be asked to do it since they had more expertise with it.

In the end, the council agreed to add this change to the “punch list” of items that need to be fixed or corrected before the project is formally declared finished.

Another mistake that will take more time to correct is the painted lines marking parking stalls in front of city hall.

Previtera said plans called for those line to be 9 feet apart, but they had been painted only 8 feet apart.

He said the only way to remove the incorrect stripes quickly would be to mill the asphalt in that area, but that process would leave the surface too rough. Instead, he and Garrett had decided to let the present stripes fade naturally with time and then repaint them.

With the project repairs settled, the council approved the final payment of $226,221 to APAC Kansas. The city still has a retainage of nearly $37,000 that will be paid to the contractor after the project passes a final inspection about 10 months from now.

The council also approved an engineering bill of $5,460 from Reiss & Goodness for inspection work on the project.

Following a public hearing that generated no comments from the public, the council approved three resolutions that would put the application process in motion for grant money to pay for Phase II of the housing rehabilitation project on the city’s north side.

RoseMary Saunders of Reiss & Goodness said the new target area would encompass about 60 residences in an area bounded by First Street on the south edge, Third Street on the north edge, the east side of Main Street on the west edge, and Madison Street on the east edge.

If the city’s grant request of up to $400,000 is approved by the Kansas Department of Commerce, initial plans call for rehabilitation work on 16 residences and the possible demolition of five more units.

A maximum of $18,700 can spent on any one residence.

The grant application is due Oct. 1. Word of its acceptance or denial should be received in early December.

In other business, the council:

— approved Mayor Delores Dalke’s recommendation that Mike Padgett, Kyle Cederberg and Jerry Hinerman be appointed to three-year terms on the board of Hillsboro Community Medical Center. Padgett and Hinerman are new to the board while Cederberg is currently serving.

— appointed Garrett and council member Matt Hiebert to be the voting delegates at the League of Kansas Municipalities meeting in Topeka, Oct. 11-14. Council members Byron McCarty and Shelby Dirks were approved as alternates.

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