What first phase of Hamilton monument restoration could actually cost

The 112-year-old building houses historic artifacts and war records that may be in peril due to a crumbling ceiling and other structural issues.

County Administrator Charlie Young said the low bid was a “good” bid, but they are having their architect examine the bid documents to make sure everything is included. The commissioners could pick a contractor on Aug.1.

A recent report put a $1 million price tag on the building’s entire restoration. The architect divided the cost of the project into three phases:

  • The first phase had an estimated price tag of $471,778, plus $90,000 for scaffolding that will be up for six months, $157,480 for contingencies and $125,984 for general conditions, meaning what contractors may find beneath the surface.
  • The second phase was expected to cost $33,550 and includes things like new storm windows over the stained glass and other windows and cleaning the bronze sculpture at the top. These items would be addressed in a three- to five-year time frame.
  • The third phase was estimated at $124,923 and would address aesthetics such as cleaning, replacing bird deterrents and other finishing touches.

Young said even the lowest bid would allow the county to complete waterproofing the roof and a couple add-ons.

“We broke down the bid into a base bid that would essentially do the roof and then a series of alternates hoping that the bids would come in pretty reasonable and that we could add additional work in,” he said. “We’re going to start at the top, make sure it’s weather-proofed and work our way down the building as funds permitted.”

The Hamilton Community Foundation challenged county commissioners to match $250,000 it was putting up to restore the monument.

Commissioner T.C. Rogers balked when he first heard the $1 million price. Now, he said commissioners have some decisions to make.

“We need to make an evaluation of whether we just fix it, or enhance it,” he said. “So if there’s a way, which I don’t know yet, to enhance it, so we can make the monument more popular then we’re going to evaluate that.”

Commissioner Don Dixon said with a project like this — historic building restoration — perhaps the low bid won’t suffice.

“Typically when you bid government work you usually have quite a difference between low and high,” he said. “Some people that do that kind of work on these specialty buildings, some of them know what they’re doing and some of them don’t. We obviously don’t want to give it to somebody who obviously can’t get it done for that amount of money.”

The commissioners have another building that needs work, the historic courthouse just down the street.

A major step forward in courthouse restoration was completed in the spring of 2015. The crumbling steps on the High Street side of the courthouse were replaced with new stairs, a $91,994 project long in the making.

Replacing the steps is not the only work that is needed on the $30 million asset. The Judge Randy Rogers has said overall it will cost almost $1 million to restore the courthouse. The estimate for installing new steps all around the building was about $200,000. Shoring up the flaking sandstone facade is another $200,000 and a new roof will be needed, with a price tag of about $500,000.

Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said they will be reconvening the courthouse restoration committee to come up with recommendations for tackling the project. She said estimates range from $2 million to make a good start on restoration up to $10 million for a complete overhaul.

“It is going to cost the county a significant amount of funds to restore the building,” she said about the monument. “And I believe it is worth it for the historical value.”

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