Bad maintenance dooms another city owned building

Some times you have to use your own eyes instead of relying on what others say – such is the case with the Ice House (N&R).  Our City Council needs to take a road trip to see what is truly going on down on Market Street.

Following my post about the pending demolition of this historic building, Councilwoman Carmany contacted city staff for the skinny. She reported her findings over at her place and cross-posted the information in my comments section as well. She tells us that the city’s head of inspections and engineering, Butch Simmons, had grave news…

“…the ties securing that veneer to the rest of the building have failed. The planned streetscape improvements on that section of East Market Street requires the removal and replacement of the existing sidewalk, and it was evident the jackhammer vibrations would bring that brick veneer crashing down. Preliminary estimates to secure the brick veneer in the $200,000-300,000 range.”

My visit to the site today reveals that the city staff has misled at least one City Council member.

There is a small portion of the brick veneer that could very well collapse, but this situation is the city’s own fault. As these pictures show, the brick is coming apart because there is a huge tree growing through the building.Ice house tree.jpg (Click on them for larger, more detailed, images.)Ice House tree 2.jpg  The fact that the Ice House continues to stand strong despite that negligence-inflicted wound should be a selling-point testament to the strength and integrity of old structures, not a reason to tear it down.

If the city had been maintaining this property correctly, like, say… keeping a tree from growing inside the building, there would be no brick to fix because the rest of the brick veneer is in exceptional shape.  But now, because we have allowed such a thing to happen – our office of engineers says it will cost between $200k and $300k to fix a problem of our own making.

The tree that is growing through the building is quite old and should have been removed the day we bought the place. The picture shows evidence that someone took a chainsaw to it some time ago, but all they did was trim it. 

You trim back the branches from all of the trees growing through your house, don’t you?  Sure you do.

And another thing. I know a thing or two about the cost of repairing old buildings and I will be more than pleased to enter into a contract to fix that corner of the Ice House for $165,000.  That will save the taxpayers between $35K and $135K based on the city’s estimate of repair. 

The way I figure it, I could pay for all of my children’s college educations from the profit I would make from the project.  From what I’ve seen of how the tree damaged the building, I would have to try real hard for the repair to actually cost me $35,000, and I’d even subcontract the work to a real brick mason. From my estimatation, I could pocket a cool $130,000 off the deal.  Send me the contract.
The city bought the Ice House three years ago in order to tear it down for bus parking and they are building their case to git ‘r done.  Well, their case sucks.

Someone needs to hold some city staffer’s feet to the fire on this one.

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  1. Mick Riggs
    Posted August 28, 2006 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like someone is!


  2. Posted August 28, 2006 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I vote “yes” on giving the contract to Hoggard and sending his kids to college. At least I would know that the building had been repaired properly and we can save an historic venue.

    Of course, I’m sure there’s some “state-approved-contract” thingie that prevents craftsmen from pursuing their craft…there’s got to be a catch somewhere. There always is.

  3. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 28, 2006 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I’ve sent this post to Mitchell Johnson and Butch Simmons for reaction and/or response. The information you quoted from me was given to the entire city council at last Tuesday’s briefing session, not just to me personally.

  4. Posted August 28, 2006 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    David you completely missed the City/County Building Property Plan: 1. Propose It. 2. Get a Bond. 3. Build it. 4. Let it run down. 5. Propose a New Bond To Fix It. 6. Repeat as necessary, unless you can find someone “connected” to buy it.

    I really miss Joe Bostic’s Government Idea of Setting Aside Money to Build and Maintain. We do it as homeowners. Our local government should do so as well.

  5. Posted August 28, 2006 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Sandy… I’ll look forward to their response. It doesn’t make me feel any better, however, that such information was imparted to everyone.

    Have Butch send me that contract while he’s looking into it – my son is a senior and I need to move fast.

  6. Posted August 28, 2006 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    The only thing you would have to be is to be on the municipality approved vendor list. It costs like $100-200 or something to get on that list. Then you can bid on pretty much any job. I imagine that that’s the stop that they’d pull on Hogg since they’ve used it on us before. But whatever.

  7. Sandy Carmany
    Posted August 28, 2006 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    For information on how to get on the city’s vendor list to supply services or materials, you can check here:

    Onerous as the state and local laws/requirements may be, they prevent a lot of “buying it from my relatives” or Cheney/Haliburton situations.

  8. Butch Simmons
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Good morning Mr. Hoggard, I would be happy to meet with you at the ice house site along with our site
    engineer to hopefully answer any questions that you have about the building and the site. We can provide cost to date, soil testing, and re-hap design numbers. Please let me know when you have the time, after hours is fine, and I will meet your schedule.
    I am out in the field most of the day so please feel free to contact me on my cell at ***-****. (ed. note: # removed by Hoggard)


    Butch Simmons

  9. Posted August 29, 2006 at 11:48 am | Permalink


    You let us know how the meeting with Butch goes, won’t you?

  10. Posted August 29, 2006 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    fotflmao- apparently (according to my more internet and text message savvy friends, that means falling on the floor laughing my a$$ off). Looks like you got some attention, and they don’t sound too happy. Imagine someone pricing something anywhere near honestly for the city. Wihle we’re at it, can I get on that list to be the official starving artist/city photogrpaher, with exclusive rights to photograph anything in city limits? Its no more ridiculous than some of the stuff we’ve been reading about lately. Hoogard, you shoul put in the bids to repair those schools too.

  11. Posted August 29, 2006 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Butch lies and that is a fact. From Southgate to mr. Pooles house to Saint james steps Butch is full of crap.

  12. Posted August 29, 2006 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Butch… please call me David.  I’ll call. Looks like tomorrow for me.

    So’s you know going in, my main concern is why we allowed that tree to do such damage to one of our properties. Also, I’ll be interested to see if there is other ‘de-lamination’ that is in danger of collapse by sidewalk construction (or otherwise) that can account for an estimated $200k – $300k in repairs.

    All of the other info will be interesting, though… especially the ramifications of what Sandy described as a “coal plume”.

    Ben… keep it civil or stay away, please.

  13. John Godwin
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    I would never have thought a cottonwood could ever have such a grip on our fair city!

  14. Samuel
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    From the looks of it, I’d say that the tree started doing damage well before the City acquired the property.

    I like blogs. I honestly do. The only problem is that most bloggers often draw conclusions with inaccurate information or no context. It sometimes breeds cynicism where none was intended.

  15. Posted August 29, 2006 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Samual. The tree has been growing there a long time… and said so in the post with this sentence… “The tree that is growing through the building is quite old and should have been removed the day we bought the place.”

    I like commenters. I honestly do. The only problem is that some commenters often don’t read very carefully. That sometimes breeds cynicism among most bloggers who attempt to choose their words carefully and strive to be contextual as well as provide accurate information.

6 Trackbacks

  1. By Hogg’s Blog » On the agenda on September 6, 2006 at 7:25 am

    [...] My meeting with Butch Simmons and city manager Mitch Johnson regarding the condition of the Ice House is today.  I’ll keep you posted. -dhoggard no comments trackback this article comment on this article [...]

  2. By Hogg’s Blog » on September 7, 2006 at 6:20 am

    [...] Yesterday, during my meeting with city staff about the Ice House (more on this later this evening), city manager Mitch Johnson told me the Hammer brothers had apparently sent out advance copies of their weekly containing Bledsoe’s next installment for the TV stations to mull because he recieved an interview request from WGHP.  The video of last night’s advance publicity for what is sure to be a hard-to-find Rhino edition can be found here. -dhoggard no comments trackback this article comment on this article [...]

  3. By Hogg’s Blog » The Ice House on September 17, 2006 at 7:11 am

    [...] The saga of the Ice House started back on August 5th, 2003.  During that night’s city council meeting, our city staff reported that the purchase of the property on East Market Street had been completed.  A site plan was presented that reflected what was in store for the property: an expansion of the adjacent city bus parking facility. [...]

  4. [...] Related, background posts here, here and here.  [...]

  5. By Hogg’s Blog » Ice House - The offer on September 19, 2006 at 8:26 am

    [...] In light of today’s N&R article on the subject, I thought it might be a good idea to explain the offer that is on the table to purchase the Colonial Ice House as my feeble mind understands it. This is complicated, so bear with me and excuse any typos, I’ve not had time to edit… [...]

  6. By a new f’ing wilderness on February 28, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    [...] Image source: Hoggs Blog [...]