Cause of water damage at library detected

Repair costs may not be significant as previously expected
Kevin Passon

Repairs to water leaks and building at the Shawano Public Library aren’t expected to be as expensive as thought just a month ago.

Highway Commissioner Grant Bystol and crew members investigated the issues prominent in the northeast corner of the building and have most of the repairs already completed.

Supervisor Tom Kautza explained the situation to the Shawano County Public Property Committee on Feb. 1. He said a piece of Spancrete (precast concrete) is sitting atop a poured wall with no sealant in between.

“Everything on the outside is higher than the wall,” Kautza said. “When they (previous builders) set the floor deck on, they never put nothing in between here to seal it.

“And the water will get higher outside than the wall, so it would just run in between the floor and the poured wall on top, and you can see the brown lines coming down the wall.”

Steve Dreher, maintenance director, noted another significant issue.

“They also had an abandoned — it looked like a duct at one time — that when they did one of their expansions, they put sheet metal over that,” he said. “And the sheet metal had rotted away, and sand’s just falling in.”

Jim Davel, county administrative coordinator, noted there was no mold on the drywall but said the carpet is a different story.

“If you take that carpet up, you’ll probably find some under there,” Kautza added.

This phase of the repairs was projected to cost about $11,500. In the conference room in the northeast corner of the building, this included removal of the interior insulation, drywall, and the tongue and groove, as well as identifying cracks and filling them.

The plan was to then wait until later in the spring to attack the exterior problems, which would include regrading the land around the building and other work to the foundation. Those costs were first estimated to be around $130,000.

Davel again urged waiting several weeks before starting the next phase.

“I would recommend that when Grant finishes that you have another joint meeting (with the library board), because I think your overall cost is going to be nowhere near that estimate that Grant had done,” he said. “And I really think that instead of going right away and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to put that room back together,’ let’s wait a little bit until spring and see what it looks like.”

Kautza said the biggest exterior problem is the grading around the building and the water runoff from adjacent properties.

“On that north side, if they make a little bit of a dish in there — a couple feet deep — and then put down some fabric and some clean, crushed stone and put drain tile in there, there’s a catch basin on the north side, and that catch basin needs some work on it,” he said. “We fix it so the water gets out away from the building and gets over to the catch basins. Right now, it’s flat. I think that would fix the building, period, for the 100 years.”

Just six months ago, some officials were talking about closing the building due to the water damages, foundation issues and mold, and constructing a new library for $13 million or more. There was also talk of housing the library on the first floor of new government center that would include county offices on the second floor, in a joint effort to replace the library and courthouse.

According to the library’s website, the building at 128 S. Sawyer St., was completed in 1960. A major remodeling and addition was completed in 1990. Square footage went from just under 12,000 to more than 21,000.