Water Dept. building

Farnsworth Group Inc., of Waukee, will provide the Waverly City Council with repair suggestions for the Water Department building under a professional services agreement approved Monday night.

The Waverly City Council entered into a professional services agreement Monday night with a Waukee engineering firm to provide suggestions on how to renovate the old water department building located just south of Waverly City Hall.

The Farnsworth Group Inc. will do the work in two phases. The first would provide the design work, including a list of “scope items and appropriate costs” for the facility at 117 First St. NE.

The water department will move to the new Public Services Center on Fifth Avenue Northwest once the newest addition to the building is completed.

That would be followed by the firm drafting bidding and construction documents, plans and specifications to restore the exterior of the building.

The old water department building was built in 1920 and measures 9,800 square feet with an additional west wing of 912 square feet that contains the controls to the inflatable dam in the Cedar River. Phase I work would have a not-to-exceed cost of $27,900 plus applicable reimbursable expenses, while Phase II has a not-to-exceed price tag of $56,950 plus expenses.

Stating that he “was not opposed” to the measure, Ward 3 Councilman Rod Drenkow expressed concerns about having both phases of the contract decided on simultaneously.

“Are we locked into the second phase if we approve the resolution?” Drenkow asked. “I’m not understanding how we can come up with a bid to come up with the plans to fix the building when we’re not sure yet what needs to be fixed.”

Before handing it off to Kristopher Orth, engineering principal with Farnsworth Group, City Administrator James Bronner said there would be partial payments billed by the firm until each cap is reached.

“We have an idea of what’s necessary,” Bronner said. “There’s some stuff that we’ve got to address.

“Having that thought ahead of time, what it may look like, we think it’ll be no more than ($56,950).”

Orth added that the council could determine that after his firm surveys the building and work doesn’t need to be done to fix anything, the second phase would be terminated at no cost.

“You wouldn’t be locked into that second phase,” Orth said. “It’s easier to come to you one time to get that approval. If the desire is to move forward … we’d be ready to roll right into that.”

Right before Monday’s meeting, council members and staff joined Orth in a tour of the building. Orth said he has a “rough idea of what the scope is” but if things are worse than expected, or more needs to be done, Farnsworth representatives would come before the council to make adjustments.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Julie Meyers asked if the goal was to bring the building to a minimum standard of functionality and safety for its current demands. Orth said Farnsworth will consult with staff and anyone else appointed by the council to investigate the necessary work to secure the façade and the exterior to prevent water infiltration.

“We will not be doing design work in Phase I,” Orth said.

He added there could be a possibility the building could be rented out. If that were the case, the city and Waverly Utilities would need to segregate a section of the building for their access, as the dam controls are in there.

The second phase would utilize the choices made from the first and create the design and bid documents.

At the request of At-Large Councilwoman Ann Rathe, Orth listed several issues he saw during the pre-meeting tour of the facility. Orth said that Farnsworth’s structural integrity engineer had prepared a list from a preliminary inspection that was presented to the council previously.

He listed there were some bricks that are cracked and spalling, which could either be related to structural or moisture issues, or a combination of both. The soffit on the roof is also deteriorating significantly, especially in the area that’s over the spillway on the east bank of the Cedar River.

Other areas of concern is a missing downspout for the gutters and glass block windows that face First Street have portions that have no mortar and sealant that could allow air and moisture to seep into the building.

Orth added that the building is on the National Historic Registry, so whatever is done needs to have approval by the State Historical Society and the Waverly Historical Preservation Commission.

He told Ward 1 Councilman Brian Birgen that cost estimates for the work would be determined by the end of the first phase.

“We’ll whittle the list (of reparable items) down, and then we’ll put together the bid documents, and we’ll have an estimate of that when it’s going out to bid,” Orth said. “The bids will be the real cost.”