The Hoppe Spring Museum is proving to be quite a challenge to remove from the park, in spite of its decrepit condition. “The museum is not wanting to go quietly,” Mayor Terry Palmer joked at the January 21 Steelville City Council meeting, where aldermen were informed that the old flooring of the building contains asbestos and will require special removal procedures.
Aldermen had agreed that the structure needed to be demolished last year, due to its poor condition. Alderman Terry Beckham had made the recommendation on behalf of the city’s museum committee in March of 2012. Work to remove items from the place took close to six months and in November, the city council agreed to seek bids for the removal of the old house that had served as the museum in the Hoppe Springs Park.
At the last council meeting of 2012, aldermen looked at the four bids submitted for the project. P.J.Meyers’ bid was for $6,899; Woodruff Service, LLC bid $7,950; John Eaton bid $5,850; and Larry Harmon bid $5,300. The two lowest bidders did not provide certificates of liability or workers compensation insurance and therefore were disqualified from the bidding process.
City Comptroller Jennifer Basham pointed out that the cost was much higher than expected. “This is very over budget,” she said. “It’s about $3,500 too much. I see a lot of cuts in the parks (budget) future to do this project, but it’s something that needs to be done before someone gets hurt up there.”
Mayor Terry Palmer agreed that the project was needed, noting that the structure was a liability for the city.
Alderman Dave Hatcher made a motion to accept P.J. Meyers’ bid, but his counterpart Beckham questioned whether the city employees could to the job instead. “Is that out of the question,” Beckham asked. “This is way more than we had anticipated.”
“The only concern I have is what happens if they get called away on more than one occasion,” Alderman Mike Pounds said. “I’d hate to have half a building standing there.”
But Hatcher didn’t like the idea of asking for bids, but then deciding against the work. “I’m not against our own crew doing things. But I don’t think it’s right to put out these bids and then say we’re going to do it ourselves. I don’t think that’s ethical.”
Although Beckham reiterated he hadn’t thought the project would be so costly, Pounds seconded Hatcher’s motion and the vote passed, awarding the bid to Meyers.
As Meyers was at the meeting, he informed the council that an asbestos inspection was a requirement before the structure could be demolished and noted that he had some concern about the floor tile in the old home.
Results of the inspection that revealed the asbestos in the linoleum flooring were shared with the council at the January 22 meeting, along with bids for the removal of the substance. Three bids were submitted, ranging from $5,600 to $6,967. Asbestos removal requires a special state license.
“The good part of this is that we don’t have to pay prevailing wage because it’s a demolition,” Palmer noted. Basham reported she had asked Charlie Ray with Missouri Engineering about the cost and he’d stated the cost was close to what would be seen for this type of removal. “They just have you over a barrel because you have to have a licensed person to do it,” she said.
Beckham questioned whether the city should do anything at all with the structure. “We could just board the place up and wait till we are in better financial condition,” he said. Then he asked Basham, “Will this put us into a bind with the budget?”
Basham replied, “There will have to be some cuts made in the parks department somewhere, somehow.” Palmer pointed out that the total cost to remove the museum would be around $12,500, around $7,500 over what was budgeted for the project.
However, Basham noted that the parks budget would probably not be in better condition, even if the city waited a year or so, since that department doesn’t bring in revenue, so Beckham made a motion to go ahead with low bid for asbestos removal and to continue with the demolition. The motion was approved.