Partial resolution reached over relocation of utilities for additions at library in Grayling
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Consumers Energy has agreed to trim thousands of dollars off bills to relocate power lines to accommodate a higher roofline for an addition at the Crawford County Devereaux Memorial Library, but the delay in work has pushed the completion date for the project out nearly a month.
Power poles in the back of the library and in the parking lot for the library had to be moved so that construction crews could start on the addition and renovations to the library.
A construction update meeting was held at the library on Friday, December 13.
Rich Castle, a community affairs manager for Consumers Energy covering nine counties in the northern Lower Peninsula, said the bills issued to relocate the power poles included bringing equipment on site, engineering time, and bringing crews out to do the work.
Consumers Energy has agreed to reduce the bill to the library from $44,628 to $38,283 for the work.
Another point of contention with the bills was that Consumers Energy employees came out three different times to do site inspections before the work was completed.
Castle said the library would not be charged for those visits.
Before the power poles and lines were relocated, a utility easement had to be approved by Grayling resident Randy Thompson, who owns a home directly behind the library. The easement added to the cost plus required the purchase of Serbian Spruce trees at a cost of $4,500 to the library to serve as buffer between the library addition and the home.
“I know this hasn’t been the most ideal project, but there has been some lessons learned,” Castle said.
Delays due to relocating the utilities have pushed back work on structural steel and roofing for the addition.
“This has been a source of frustration for a few months because it has held us up,” said Crawford County Library Board Trustee Cheryl Ruley.
Castle pledged to go back and review costs for expenses and materials for the work, and to give a breakdown of those charges to library officials.
“It was really hard to justify paying for a bill when there was no breakdown,” said Library Board Trustee Jody Coors.
Another issue with relocating a power pole in the library’s parking area revolved around equipment striking and bringing up wires from electric conduit placed underground.
The parking lot is owned by the Crawford AuSable School District, but is operated and maintained through a memorandum of understanding between the school district and the library.
Castle said it is the responsibility of Miss Digg to locate where underground utilities are located on behalf of Consumers Energy and the City of Grayling.
Castle said the location of underground utilities in this case would have been the responsibility of the contractor and the library.
Power to the light pole was fortunately not turned on when the work was completed.
“When that happens for us, it’s a safety issue,” Castle said. “If we were to do that on our equipment, somebody would be dead.”
Castle said that the library would be responsible for repairing the conduit since it was unclear who was on site to direct the relocation of the power pole when the work was completed.
“That’s the way it works across the board for any of the work we do for our customers,” Castle said.
The library was built in 2001. Leslie C. Devereaux donated $500,000 to the community in order to get the library built. She wanted to honor her grandfather, William Devereaux, and father, Richard Devereaux, who were avid readers, fly fishermen, and sportsmen who started coming to the Grayling area in the 1920s.
In turn, local taxpayers approved a $1.5 million bond issue to cover the remaining cost for the building. The bonds for building the library have been paid off.
Crawford County Library Director Connie Meyer said she would go back and try to find the construction plans from when the library was built.
“That would be the first thing I would do is start pulling out your own schematics,” said Crawford County Commissioner Sharon Priebe, who is the liaison between the library board and the Crawford County Board of Commissioners.
Masonry, roofing, and pouring the slabs in the new east and west additions to the building are expected to completed by December 31.
Rich Wagner, a senior construction manager for Integrity Construction Services, pledged that subcontractors will be on hand to complete the work.
Wagner said construction crews are spread thin due to lack of employees in the skilled trades fields in northern Michigan.
“That’s the battle right now in construction,” he said. “It’s everywhere.”
Wagner also vowed that Steve Hill, the superintendent for the library addition and renovation project, will be on hand five days a week after the start of the new year.
The completion date for the project has been moved back three to four weeks, and is not expected to be done until May.
In August of 2018, Crawford County voters approved a bond proposal targeted at enhancing services and access to the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library by a 1,584 yes to 1,458 no vote.
The proposal allowed the county to issue bonds up to $3 million to make expansions and renovations to the library.
Meyer said that library officials will be watchdogs on expenses for the project as it continues forward.
“We have to keep an eye on taxpayer dollars at all times,” she said.