By Keith Gushard
The first major repair work at the Crawford County Courthouse in almost six decades is under way.
Repairs to the cupola at courthouse in Meadville as well as exterior masonry and roof repairs at a cost of more than $700,000 have started.
At their meeting Thursday, Crawford County’s Board of Commissioners cautioned the public to be aware of potential temporary street closures around the courthouse during the project. That may be necessary as repairs are done on different portions of the building as well as the need for temporary staging areas for materials.
The Crawford County Courthouse itself hasn’t had major renovations since the building was expanded in the mid-1950s.
Guzik Concrete and Masonry of Union City placed scaffolding this week to begin exterior masonry restoration and cupola work.
In June, commissioners awarded the contract for that work to Guzik on a bid of $258,635 — the only bid received for that contract.
Ramp Construction Co. Inc. of Canonsburg was awarded the contract for the roof repair project on a bid $454,000 — the lowest of two bids received.
All the work is to be completed by Sept. 30.
The county had estimated the total of the two repair projects at more than $720,000 — $157,850 in exterior restoration and cupola work; $431,200 for a new rubberized roof; $27,500 in environmental/asbestos abatement; $58,853 for construction contingencies; and $47,240 in architectural/ engineering fees.
The county will pay for the project out of proceeds from a previous $5 million county bond issue, according to commissioners.
County commissioners have said the work is necessary due to the building’s age even if the county eventually opts to go forward with an estimated $25.3 million plan to move the county court system and related offices out of the building.
In January 2012, a citizens’ advisory committee recommended Crawford County split almost all of its courthouse functions among two sites. The present Crawford County Courthouse in downtown Meadville would become the administrative center while the former Talon Inc. Plant No. 5 on upper Arch Street would be a courts center under that plan.
Final action on whether to move forward with that building project is expected to be taken by county commissioners later this year.
Even if the Crawford County doesn’t move forward with any major structural changes, architect Dick Fox of Weber Murphy Fox has estimated the county would have to spend about $10 million to upgrade the present courthouse building — such as its roof, electrical, heating and other systems.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 7246370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.