2018-07-12 / Front Page

Jail roof already in need of replacement

$1 million pricetag
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

Having paid nearly $1 million last year to install an all-new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system in the county’s Law Enforcement Center, the county next year will likely need to spend another $1 million to replace the building’s roof.

The Leelanau County Board of Commissioners heard this week from county Maintenance Director Jerry Culman and representatives of Infrared Roofing Technologies about the condition of the roof which, experts said, had reached the end of its service life.

Completed in 2005, the Law Enforcement Center (LEC) cost $5.1 million to construct. Located adjacent to the newer Leelanau County Government Center and courthouse, the LEC houses the county Sheriff’s Office, the County Jail, and the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.

For years, occupants of the building struggled to control the temperature and humidity inside the building. Numerous “fixes” were applied to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system over the years.

In 2016, finally, the county ordered a comprehensive review from an HVAC engineering company that showed the HVAC system to be the wrong size for the building, that insulation was faulty, and that certain building and fire code provisions had been violated in its construction. By then, the building was no longer under warranty, however.

Most of the HVAC system components are located on the roof of the building. An extended series of “fixes” of the system over the years required a substantial amount of foot traffic on the roof. Replacement of the entire system last year resulted in even more wear and tear on the roof from foot traffic, although leaks discovered at the time were repaired.

Contractor Len Simkins of Infrared Roofing Technologies told the County Board this week that the type of roof installed on the LEC, a “ballast” roof with small stones placed over other roofing materials, has been shown to be less than optimal over the years. He said 14 years is the expected service life of such a roof.

Simkins added that “congestion” on the roof from the new HVAC system will require more time, effort and expense from roofing contractors to install a new roof. He said a detailed “nuclear” inspection of the roof revealed it to be “a ticking time bomb,” that will need to be replaced before it becomes a “catastrophe.”

The County Board was presented three preliminary proposals for replacing the roof this week. The proposals were based on the length of time the new roof could be expected to last, from 20 to 40 years, with price estimates ranging from $665,375 to $994,500.

The proposals were presented this week so the County Board can consider including the expense in the county’s fiscal 2019 budget. A formal process for crafting a budget for the new fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2019 is beginning this month. If 2019 funding is approved, the LEC roof replacement project could begin as early as next spring.

Culman noted that the roof of the Government Center building, completed in 2008, is an entirely different type of roof that is currently in very good shape and is expected to last for decades more.

Acting as its executive committee this week, the County Board voted 7-0 on a motion by District No. 6 Commissioner Casey Noonan, supported by District No.4 Commissioner Ty Wessell, to consider the LEC roofing proposals in more detail at next week’s regular County Board meeting.

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