Polk seeks special consultant for DSS repairs

Published 10:21 pm Monday, July 29, 2013

Polk County Commissioners expressed their concern this month over repairs to the department of social service (DSS) meeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification and generally being done correctly.

Commissioners met July 8 and directed attorney Jana Berg to look into finding a specialized LEED consultant to oversee the project.

The DSS building was completed and moved into at the end of 2011. County officials have discovered several issues since and some work has yet to be completed. The largest issues are with the HVAC system and the septic system, as well as humidity issues. The surety bond company met with a few different contractors recently to complete the work on the septic system and, as of last week, was working to select a contractor.

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Interim Polk County Manager Marche Pittman said the septic system work will be extensive and will include pulling up concrete and fixing the walls along the route of the pipe inside the building. Polk maintenance has been going to the building on a bi-weekly basis to continuously flush the toilets in order for back ups to not occur.

During the July 8 meeting, commissioner Keith Holbert said he wants to see the building complete and wants the county to make sure it gets its money’s worth. He mentioned a consulting firm he found online that specialized in LEED certification and suggested the county hire a company such as his example.

“I want to make sure someone is in our corner making sure we get this done right,” Holbert said.

Commissioner chair Michael Gage said when someone takes a shower at the DSS building it leaks into the hallway because there’s no liner. Other issues mentioned during the meeting were cracks in the walls and rooms that were unusable because of noise from the HVAC system. Pittman said those issues have since been corrected.

Commissioner Tom Pack said some of the tests have not been completed that were supposed to be by the contract as well.

“We’ve got a mess out there that needs to be fixed,” said Pack. “We need someone on Polk County’s side.”

In May commissioners agreed to withhold $75,000 from the DSS building contractor, Able Construction and demanded that North American Insurance Company honor its obligations under the performance bond to complete the contract.

The approximate 12,000-square-foot DSS building, located off Wolverine Trail in Mill Spring, was the county’s first LEED certified building. The county’s budget for the building was $2 million with the contract with Able Construction being $1,590,755. DSS was scheduled to occupy the building in November 2011 but weren’t able to move in until December 2011.

The county fined the contractors because the certificate of occupancy was not granted on time. Some of the delay was caused by the heating and cooling controls not functioning correctly in the building and the soffit had not been installed on time.

Other problems that caused delays were that work on the soffit, or eaves under the roof had to be stopped near the end of construction because there was no insulation, so contractors had to spray in insulation prior to receiving a certificate of occupancy.