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Library price tag goes up

County's 'faulty construction' of original building leads to 28 percent cost increase
by: submitted photo An artist's rendering of the proposed Happy Valley Library.

Clackamas County will need to pay an additional $638,000 to build the new 17,000-square-foot library in Happy Valley after discovering extensive water and mold damage in the building it was remodeling and expanding.

The extra costs will also delay the project by two months, so now books aren't expected to move from Clackamas Town Center until December.

Gary Barth, the county's director of business and community services, blamed 'faulty construction' when the county built the existing structure 12 years ago. Expansion joints were placed too far apart and flashing on the roof probably wasn't deep enough to prevent water from seeping through, pooling at the base of the wall and causing a 28-percent increase in project costs through the damage, and through other changes requested by Water Environment Services.

County commissioners had approved the original $2.3 million contract with Beaverton-based Seabold Construction in February. The elected leaders agreed that construction had proceeded too far to bring it to a halt without the extra expenses at this point, but they expressed concern at a work session May 17 about the county preventing and detecting such problems.

Clackamas Chair Charlotte Lehan chastised the county for appearing to fail on multiple levels.

'I don't know that there's anything we can do but go ahead and fix this building. But we have to take a serious look at this, at why this happened and how to have it not happen again,' Lehan said.

County Library Director Doris Grolbert has been 'stocking away' funds from operating expenses, but the extra remodeling costs will wipe out most of the contingency fund. The Library Service District of Clackamas County has an approximately $13.5 million annual budget for operations, and has several other capital projects pending, including in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Gladstone (see 'Bread behind the books,' April 13).

Barth recalled hearing of no issues with the property, located at 13793 SE Sieben Parkway, from the North Clackamas School District, which had leased the 12,000-square-foot facility until last spring. The leased library at Clackamas Corner will move east to Happy Valley when remodeling and expansion of the Sieben Parkway building is complete.

County administrator Steve Wheeler said he would oversee a case review of the building under remodel that the county completed with help from NCSD in 1999, along with others projects built around the same period.

'Is it the tip of the iceberg or is it isolated?' Wheeler asked.

Grolbert still expects a cost-effective building near Sunnyside Road that will improve service by moving books closer to the population center. The larger space will also allow for more programming, books and public meeting spaces.