Polk majority agrees to replace courthouse retaining wall

Published 10:12 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2016

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Polk County’s historic courthouse will be receiving a new retaining wall, stairs and brick sidewalk this summer at a cost of $94,160.

Polk commissioners met Monday, May 2 and approved by a 3-2 vote a bid from Jay’s Lawn Service and Landscape Company.

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Commissioners have been discussing the possibility of replacing or repairing the retaining wall, which was last worked on in the 1980s and has some damage. The county tabled the discussion last month after hearing from engineer Dave Odom that the best solution would be to replace the entire wall.

Odom said on Monday it makes no senses to do a piece meal job because the new and old wall wouldn’t look the same at all.

Commissioner Ted Owens motioned to replace the wall and also said the contractor has agreed to add replacing the front steps to the same bid.

Commissioner Shane Bradley, who along with commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against replacing the wall, said $94,000 is a lot of money.

“I feel there’s a lot of places we could put that money that would better suit the county,” Bradley said.

Gasperson said like he said at the last meeting, he’d prefer the wall be discussed in the budget process and to replace the wall over the next 1-3 years.

Gasperson said the county should wait on the wall given where it’s currently heading with the costs of a new jail.

“I had more people contact me on this than I’ve had in a long time,” Gasperson said. “Timing is everything and this is not the correct time for me.”

Commissioner chair Michael Gage asked about taking up the brick. Odom said a lot of the sidewalk has settled and they can’t take down the old wall with the brick there. The bid includes putting all the brick back.

“It’s an unintended benefit of the project,” Odom said. “The aesthetic of that work would be greatly improved.”

NEWS CourthouseWallRepair1

County manager Marche Pittman said he reached out to the Town of Columbus as commissioners directed him last month and they are in support of the project but asked that it be done either before or after July 4 because of the town’s annual festival.

Odom said the project was bid for the work not to begin until after July 4.

Owens said he understands the project is a lot of money and commissioners could put the money somewhere else but the wall needs repaired.

“The longer you wait the worse it’s going to get,” said Owens.

Owens said the contractor has indicated the wall should last 100 years with the only maintenance required being pressure washing for cleaning.

Pittman said the money for the wall won’t need to be taken out of fund balance, but can be funded through contingency and other line items in the budget. Commissioners approved a budget amendment for the funding by a 3-2 vote also.