CLEARFIELD – An unexpected and very costly discovery was made during renovations at the Clearfield County Jail.
Last summer the county contracted ABM Industries to oversee the completion of a $9.3 million renovation project at the jail.
During the project’s development, ABM reviewed original construction drawings from the 1980’s.
Additionally, it had a third-party structural engineer conduct a facility walk-through at the request of the county.
“That due diligence really identified a handful of work that needed done,” said Tyler Nichols, ABM sales director.
“The jail hadn’t been substantially renovated … since its original construction 40 years ago.”
Work has included structural improvements, roof replacement and upgrades to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
“Major scope items were removing failed skylights and upgrading structural framing and supports for all new HVAC equipment.
Other work included installing new LED lighting, hot water heaters and boilers, significant plumbing upgrades and so forth.
While removing skylights and installing the new roofing system, ABM discovered there was no bond beam in the roof structure.
“The roof – essentially – is floating on top of the building, and is not mechanically fastened.
“This is a hazard; it needs corrected, but to be abundantly clear: everyone in the facility is safe. There is no safety concern.
“Gravity has been your best friend because the weight of that concrete roof has really been what’s held it in place.”
The beam was specified in the original design documents, Nichols said, and shown on the building drawings but is non-existent.
“There was absolutely no realistic way for the commissions or the engineers who walked the building to know it was done this way.
“There was no way to know this corner was cut until we started pulling block out, ripping the roof and skylights off.”
The missing bond beam is likely the root cause of the jail’s roof leaks and the premature failure of its skylights, Nichols said.
The new roofing system will also fail prematurely, Nichols said, if the county doesn’t take corrective action.
Since the onset of renovations, plumbing – not part of the upgrades on the north side of the jail – has started deteriorating.
“It’s causing some significant leaks,” Nichols said, “and many of the plumbing fixtures in the cells are also starting to degrade rapidly.”
The repairs will cost $3,878,660, according to Nichols, and work can begin immediately for the roof’s completion by winter.
The commissioners voted unanimously to proceed with the repairs, and will explore financing options.
“This really caught us off guard,” Commissioner Dave Glass said of the unexpected repairs and associated costs.
“But we don’t really have a viable building if we don’t deal with it. We’re kind of between a rock and a hard place.”
The county has good credit and American Rescue Act Plan Funds available, Commissioner Chairman John Sobel said.
“But that would mean less ARAP funds to assist our local municipalities with infrastructure projects and broadband.
“We’re going to do the very best we can [to finance jail repairs] and still accomplish some of our other goals.”