After much discussion, a possible ordinance violation and structural analysis from two companies, the verdict is in: the Parker House slab has been deemed unusable.
During the city council’s pre-agenda workshop two weeks ago, city administrator Chris Hubbard delivered the report from Nova Engineering and Environmental, a third party that was brought in to conduct a structural analysis and soil borings on the Parker House foundation.
The report said that the Parker House foundation was not to be used. It was recommended that the existing foundation be removed and anything built on the site would need deep foundation pilings.
Councilman Jack Mullen pointed out that the report prominently said, “Do not build on it,” with the words both bolded and underlined.
Nova’s report corroborated the assessment originally provided by Cathey Construction.
The insurance company paid out $660,000 for damages after the building caught fire in 2011 and told city officials the foundation slab could be rebuilt upon.
The city disagreed and sought an additional $90,000. Two years went by with no additional funds paid, which prompted the city to take action.
The Bay County Board of County Commissioners supported the council in their decision and recommended Nova to complete the new analysis.
Mullen reported that when walking in the Parker House, an incline could be felt and visible cracks could be seen in the slab.
“I don’t see how anyone could ignore this,” said Mullen. “You can walk across the front porch and tell that it’s not fine.”
At Tuesday’s regular meeting Mullen said that he had mailed the new report to the insurance company, based in Orlando, and would be following up soon to schedule a face-to-face meeting.
Previously, the council had decided that the Parker House would be dismantled and moved to a secondary site on the property, which sits off U.S. Highway 98.
Members of the public inquired why the council was worried about the slab if they had no intention to rebuild on it. Mullen answered that they would not remove the slab until the insurance claim had been settled and the remaining $90,000 paid.
“We have proof that (the slab) is not fine,” said Mullen. “If they still say the slab is fine, then we’ll have problems.
“We just need to tell them what we want. We’ll get it settled.”
Mullen said that litigation will be an option in the event that the insurance company turns down the city’s request for additional funds.
During last month’s regular meeting, in which the council voted to hire Nova for the second structural analysis, Mullen read ordinance number 177, which stated that expenditures over $3,000 require competitive bids.
In a split-vote that resulted in possible violation of the ordinance, the council opted to award the bid to Nova even though it had not strictly followed the competitive bid process.
During the council’s regular meeting, Councilwoman Tanya Castro and city attorney Paul Komarek stalled a vote to amend ordinances to increase the $3,000 bid limit to $8,000.
Komarek suggested some word changes and different language be written into the ordinance prior to voting while Castro said that the ordinance needed more discussion to avoid possible violations in the future.
“We need to ensure that we’re always going to do the right thing and follow the rules,” said Castro.
The vote was tabled and discussions will resume at next month’s pre-agenda workshop.