NEWBERRY – The City of Newberry has gone through a lengthy process of grant applications in an attempt to obtain funding from the State to repair one of their iconic historic structures…the Little Red Schoolhouse. The structure, which was built in 1909, now serves as a museum and administrative offices for the City’s Building, Planning and Code Enforcement offices.
The building is currently suffering from structural failure due in part to the bricks having not been fired to a high enough temperature and also due to masonry and mortar wear through the years. In 2015, an architectural assessment of the interior and exterior of the building was performed. One of the findings from the assessment was that the brick and mortar joints on the exterior of the building had deteriorated to the point that water was collecting and migrating into the interior of the wall.
The City’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan calls for remodeling the interior and repair of the exterior. Originally, the City sought help from the State and submitted grant applications for assistance. Although the last grant application appeared to bear fruit, half of the state funding dollars that were awarded went to the Florida Panhandle to help with hurricane disaster remediation.
After three grant application attempts, the Newberry City Commission opted to have the City make the repairs and this year budgeted approximately $100,000 toward that goal. Approximately $70,000 of that money was earmarked for masonry repairs.
At the Jan. 27 City Commission meeting, City Manager Mike New reported that the City put the project out to bid as directed by the Commission and received three bids to perform the work. The low bidder was the Rose Group LLC with a bid of $38,000.
“The City has checked their references thoroughly and had received excellent reports about their work,” said New.
In addition, All Pro Masonry, a company acting as a subcontractor to the Rose Group, had also been vetted as they will be performing approximately $14,000 of the work. In a meeting with staff earlier on Jan. 27, both companies assured the City that they understood the project and were ready and able to complete it.
Although the bid amount is for $38,000, New asked for and received authorization for a not-to-exceed amount of 20 percent for overages. Due to the nature of the work, it can be difficult to assess the potential for additional brick and/or mortar damage. “We really don’t know what we’re going to find until we get into this project, and the usual 10 percent change order process may not be adequate in this case,” he said.
“Work should begin on the Little Red Schoolhouse repairs within the next 30 days and be completed in the next four months,” said New.
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