By: Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune
May 15, 2018
The Porter County Board of Commissioners moved forward with plans for the exterior renovation of and new windows for the courthouse in downtown Valparaiso, with a total of $1.3 million in bids for the work. The contracts went to the lowest bidders after being reviewed by the staff of the Skillman Corp., the county’s construction managing firm for its facility upgrades.
The contracts went to Gariup Construction of Gary for the exterior work, at $547,500, and J.W. Werntz and Son of South Bend for the windows, at $778,000, at the May 15 meeting.
While the request for proposals included an option for restoring the courthouse’s foundation, Dion Katsouros, a regional manager with Skillman, said that portion of the restoration requires more investigation because the foundation may not need as extensive work as officials originally thought.
The project is part of a $30 million capital upgrade plan undertaken by commissioners and announced last summer to renovate county facilities.
The courthouse, built in the late 1880s, is of particular concern because of water leaks, and Commissioners President Jeff Good, R-Center, has said officials want to stop the air and moisture infiltration in the building. Because of the eight to 10 weeks of lead time it will take to get new aluminum windows for the courthouse, Katsouros said it was important to get that project moving along. He expects work to begin on the exterior in June, with the windows, which are 4 feet by 12 feet, being replaced in August or September.
Additionally, Katsouros said the architecture and engineering consulting firm Shive-Hattery Inc., is laying out the parameters of the next phase of the courthouse project, which includes landscaping, parking and interior work. Bids for that work should fall in line by the end of June.
“We’re making sure estimates are in line with the project before they go out for bidding,” Katsouros said.
Commissioners also approved a rezoning request from medium density single-family residential to high intensity commercial district by Bennett’s Storage in South Haven, after the request received the unanimous approval of the plan commission last month. The company sought the rezoning for an expansion and the additional property will have landscaping and privacy fencing, and has nearby property to house storm water for metered release, said attorney Todd Leeth, who represents the company.
During a brief public hearing on the rezoning, a nearby resident said he was concerned about the project’s impact on drainage, given the drainage problems that already exist in South Haven.
Commissioners have committed to spending $15 million to improve drainage in South Haven, said Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, adding he doesn’t think the storage units will contribute to flooding in the area. With plans for detaining storm water, the project is also part of fixing the problem, added Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South.
“They’re willing to give up land for (stormwater) detention. That’s enough for me. That’s a win-win right there,” Good said.
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