PTC plans to sue police HQ architect

Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:20pm
By: John Munford

Facing a multitude of repair problems with its 7-year-old police headquarters, the Peachtree City Council voted Wednesday night to pursue legal action against the project’s architect: Don Cobb and Associates of Peachtree City.

Council also accepted a “settlement” with the contractor on the project: Leslie Construction of Fayetteville. As part of the settlement, the city will pay Leslie $177,000 for work with an estimated value of $345,000; the additional work will be provided free of charge.

As for the suit against Cobb and Associates, Mayor Harold Logsdon said he had a conversation with company principal Don Cobb in hopes of getting a settlement from the company, “but that didn’t go anywhere.”

Logsdon said he felt the decision to sue Cobb and Associates was taken to make sure the city seeks every opportunity “to recover from this bad situation.”

“We’re making sure we do everything the city can do,” Logsdon said.

Among the many problems with the project were significant deficiencies with the exterior walls, which allowed water vapor to enter into the building’s heating, ventilation and cooling system.

Cobb and Associates have worked on several other projects for Peachtree City over the years including:

• The Gathering Place;

• The expansion of the city’s public works building;

• The city’s recreation administration building;

• The reconstruction of the city’s amphitheater; and

• The new Leach fire station.

Leslie will perform all its new work on the project under the supervision of Leo A. Daly, the architecture firm that discovered and tallied the construction deficiencies after the police department was moved to its temporary headquarters, which is being leased by the city on Commerce Drive near Ga. Highway 74 and Aberdeen Parkway.

The HQ structure cost $1.8 million originally when it opened more than a year ago. It has also undergone $538,000 in repairs to the heating, ventilation and cooling system in recent months in a bid to further stem the problem with moisture and mold accumulation.

A number of groundwater monitoring wells that have been installed on the site, including some as late as 2006 that were continuously monitored since then, showed that groundwater was not the problem with the moisture entering the building, said City Engineer David Borkowski.

Council member Don Haddix disagreed, saying there were “other experts” that have spoken to council members who said they didn’t think the proposed repairs would fix the problems.

Councilman Doug Sturbaum, who ultimately voted with Haddix against proceeding with the repairs, had asked for a delay to find a better housing solution for the police department. But Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett noted that the police can’t stay in their current rented facility forever.

Haddix said he believes that the presence of some groundwater in the wells when they were tested in 2006 indicates that groundwater is a problem. Borkowski said those results happened because of the poor grading around the building, which caused water to enter the wells instead of moving away from the facility.

As part of the separate 3-2 motion to approve the building repair, the council dictated that a mold inspection be performed before the police department moves back in, and that re-inspections be done at the most intense interval recommended by experts.

The scope of the work includes the removal of drywall and the remediation of mold inside the building.

In a news release issued by the city, Leslie CEO Wayne Leslie said his company wanted to “assist the city in in resolving this issue,” though the company denies its legal liability in the matter.

Under the agreement, Leslie will perform four tasks free of charge:

— Remove existing metal trellis and stone walls along walkway to entrance on right side of building;

— Replace coping;

— Replace the top EIFS (stucco) band to include proper removal of old material and painting of EFIS as specified by Leo A. Daly; and

— Seal bottom track of all outside walls as specified by Leo A. Daly.

The $177,000 Leslie is charging for includes:

— Demolition and replacement of all exterior wall finishes (from plywood out) with EIFS to include proper removal of old material from site and painting of new EIFS and specified by Leo A. Daly; and

— Replacing all exterior glass block with aluminum storefront windows with insulated glass, seal and flash.

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Submitted by Gcat on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 1:18pm.

Another architect looked at the water problem, noted that the mold was along the baseboards, and found ground water around the building. He did not determine that it was a design problem.

If they sue Cobb, it will be a costly fight with conflicting arguments from engineers.

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