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Lowell city council Dec. 16 meeting report

Lowell city council had their latest regular meeting at city hall on Monday, Dec. 16.
Comprehensive Engineering principal Ken Reigler provided the council with an update about the Lowell Showboat. Reigler said that the “construction documents” his firm has been preparing were “90 percent complete."
"I know there’s a long history here with this boat, and I have to say this is taking the Lowell Showboat another step beyond what we’ve had in the past," Reigler said.

A potentially costly mistake was recently discovered in the Showboat plans. Speculation about the cost of this error ranged from $20,000 to $100,000.

“At some point in the beginning design and engineering of the boat, there was a discrepancy that occurred between the committee and the engineer,”  said Lowell city manager Michael Burns. “The second floor and the wheelhouse, we have learned, is now becoming an issue. The goal of the committee was eight feet ceiling height on the second floor [and] eight feet ceiling height clearance in the wheelhouse. The engineer gave us eight feet. The problem is with the bulkheads and the ceiling. Once they finish the ceiling and all that, you run the risk of about seven feet on the second floor, I want to say about seven feet and two inches on the third floor, and [in] areas where there’s bulkheads on the second floor [it] is six feet [and] eight inches for clearance. We tried to figure out who is responsible for this, because this was all done before I was involved in the design. This is all the committee, I was not a part of the design. We’re trying to figure out what the solution is. My concern is that C. Fly [Marine Services, a nautical engineering company based in Madisonville, LA] can fix it, but the problem is that supplies and materials are now being ordered for the boat and we’re going to have to fix this relatively quick. My concern is it’s going to be kind of a hefty change order cost with C. Fly, and not even knowing what might happen with Moran with the steel [fabrication]. I don’t know who made the mistake, quite honestly. I’m still trying to figure out whether it was the committee or C. Fly. I don’t know who. If C. Fly made the mistake then it’s my opinion that they should fix it at no cost, but if there was a miscommunication between them and the committee, I don’t know."
"I guess it was a lack of communication between the committee and C. Fly," said Lou D’Agostino, former head of the Lowell Showboat committee and owner of D'Agostino Construction. "We wanted a finished eight feet. I guess we did not make that clear to C. Fly. [...] There is a difference between finished height and rough-in height, so you do have to compensate from the beginning. Being part of this from the beginning, I would say it is the committee’s issue. [...] What I think should happen is the city should contact C. Fly and find out, get their story. They’ve already got the committee’s story. And then meet halfway. If the city has to pay more to the change order, then that’s ‘so be it.’ You have a structure here and you don’t want to skimp on it. You’re too far along. It’s $2.6 million dollars. We’re too far along in this process to go backwards now."

"I have a problem here,” said city councilor Gregory Canfield. “We’ve worked on this and we had a committee of volunteers. A local lady drew it all up. We’re doing this all by the book, we’re paying top dollar for everything, and apparently our amateur design went out for bids instead of having the architect design it properly. Somehow, we didn’t have the right people in this at the beginning."

“Carol McGregor drew the original designs, and it clearly said 10 foot floor to ceiling,” said Liz Baker, Lowell Showboat committee member and executive director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. “She also put 12 inches in between for mechanical and whatever. On the second deck, it was clearly eight foot. C. Fly said that our drawings were vague but they never questioned us when they sent those drawings back to us. We were warned about C. Fly but we didn’t listen, so there are a lot of things going on here. And yes, mistakes have been made, but... You know, Carol did an awesome job. I can show you those drawings yourself and you can see them."

"She's not an amateur," said city councilor Cliff Yankovich.

Other aspects of the new Lowell Showboat discussed at the meeting included safety, heating, cooling and snow melting systems, plus the swelling price tag for what is going to be a lot of wet, muddy, complicated work.

“I don’t like the fact that you’re talking about putting a gas line in between the sidewalk and the boat,” said city councilor Marty Chambers. “Those are just inherently dangerous. They don’t bend, they don’t flex and they don’t really like climate change.”
"I do intend to use a flexible gas line, but I see your point," Reigler said. “There’s going to be some challenges to this construction.”
“We’ve got a budget to work with here, and the sky is not the limit," Canfield said. "We have a price point we need to get to, and I think we’re in trouble, but we’ll see.”

The total budget for the project is currently set at $2.6 million. $1.5 million of that is going to Moran Iron Works of Onaway, MI who are building the frame. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer.

In other meeting action, the city spent $9,119 on a brand new Ex-Mark lawnmower. The current lawnmower is 19 years old. They also approved $20,850 to have Prein & Newhof do the engineer work for the replacement of cracked sewer pipes on Foreman between Hudson and Beech next summer and renewed routine contract agreements with Little League Baseball and Consumers Energy.

Lowell city council's next regular meeting will be at 7 pm on Monday, Jan. 6. The council will also meet with the public during a "Coffee with the Council" at the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce building from 8 am until 10 am on Saturday, Jan. 4.
To watch city council, board and commission meetings from the past few years, look for the "City of Lowell" or "Lowell Light and Power" channels on YouTube or visit archive.org.

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