Solution surfaces for pesky museum leak

By Tom Joyce - [email protected]

Faced with a potential expenditure of $151,800 to repair a water leak at the Andy Griffith Museum that already has cost nearly $30,000, Mount Airy officials are seeking a less-expensive solution.

It possibly would involve the use of a foam product.

The moisture issue, which affects the lower level of the facility on Rockford Street, has been an ongoing problem since shortly after the $650,000 museum building was constructed in 2009. That’s when the basement of the two-story structure began to leak and an entire wall became saturated.

That led to officials of the Surry Arts Council, the museum’s operator, notifying the contractor, J.G. Coram Co. — which designed and built the facility — and the spending of about $23,000 more to dig out the entire wall, waterproof the area and install drains.

“The entire thing was dug out,” council Executive Director Tanya Jones said during a recent discussion with city government officials.

“It was certainly our impression at that time that it was repaired,” Jones said of the leak. “They (company representatives) told us it was fixed.”

The facility then was turned over to the municipality, which as its owner is now responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

But soon afterward, the problem resurfaced, with a corner of the same wall again becoming saturated, in the area of a men’s restroom on the building’s lower level, although Jones said the moisture wasn’t as bad as before.

Two contractors who examined the site after that could not identify a solution, which prompted a leak investigation last year by a Greensboro entity, SKA Consulting Engineers Inc.

That study cost $6,500, an outlay the city board of commissioners approved in June.

It produced a proposal for a leak repair project with another large price tag: $151,800.

“I think they saw us coming,” Commissioner Jon Cawley said during the recent discussion of the matter by city officials, at which a consensus emerged that “another opinion” was needed.

Rowe takes a look

Mayor David Rowe, who is in the construction business, recently visited the site and reported his findings to other council members — including word of a possibly cheaper remedy involving the foam product — during a meeting earlier this month.

“It was not correctly waterproofed,” Rowe said of the area in question, a corner where outside steps are located leading from the upper level of the property.

“As far as fixing that leak, in and of itself, you’re going to have to take the steps out,” Rowe said, and do “quite a bit of excavation.”

The mayor’s recommendation was that all possible alternatives should be explored before the city decides to “throw $150,000 at fixing that leak,” he said of the excavation and structural repairs this would entail.

“It would be huge.”

Rowe and other council members seemed hopeful about the possible use of a polymer foam product to halt the moisture problem at a cheaper cost. Multiple companies involved in that field were suggested as possible resources to contact and “see what they recommend,” the mayor said.

And that’s where the situation stands now, according to City Manager Barbara Jones.

“Nothing further has been done,” Jones reported Thursday afternoon.

“Mayor Rowe was investigating what could be done and I haven’t heard anything additional since that (early March) meeting.”

The city commissioners would vote on funding any such work.

In late February, the city commissioners approved spending $200,000 on an exhibit design and construction project for the Andy Griffith Museum, aimed at better accommodating and protecting the wealth of mementos from Griffith’s show business career which are housed there.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

[email protected]

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