Work on parking lot stopped due to conditions

The Batavia Township Trustees are hoping to smooth things over at their old township hall after a slight catastrophe occurred during the reconstruction of the parking lot.

Last month, the trustees opened bids and awarded a paving contract for the parking lot at the old township hall location to John Jurgensen Co., which began work on the project recently. However, after tearing up a portion of the old lot, it was discovered that the ground underneath is not able at this time to support a new parking lot.

The old township hall still houses the township service department and a portion of the Joint Central fire department.

“We had a procedure, the way it was supposed to be done,” said trustee Deborah Clepper. “I understand that has changed?”

The trustees had awarded the contract – a bid of more than $150,000 – specifying the procedure to be taken in the parking lot’s construction. Doug James, of John Jergensen Co., said that the procedure would have to be changed, however.

“The soil is fairly unstable,” said James. “We have an alternative that may save some money. We’ve removed roughly 290 square yards (of concrete), but the ground is just soaked. You’ll have to remove everything, you’ll have to undercut the dirt.”

The public portion of the parking lot, said James, had already been broken up and partially removed. Breaking up the remaining concrete and compacting it, he said, could help create a stable foundation, but then again, it may not.

“That’s an option, and I think it would save the township money,” said James.

James said that, given the condition of the dirt underneath the parking lot, there was no way to tell how bad it was before breaking into it from the surface. But by then, it was too late to do anything about it. The trustees, however, were adamant that a parking lot be in place, as the facility receives heavy usage from the public for various reasons. Trustee Archie Wilson, however, said that he was both opposed to the project continuing at this time, and surprised to find that it had started to begin with.

“This is not the time of the year to start a job like that,” said Wilson. “It should not have been started. If you don’t have a good foundation, if you put something on muck, you’re just putting something on muck. That’s what’s wrong with the parking lot now. It has to be dried out and compacted, and you have to have a number of dry days to do that. That doesn’t happen this time of year, and you should know that. It’s not going to happen.”

James said that the crews began work because the township had agreed that the paving could be done at any time, including this year, if possible. When the project began, said James, the conditions seemed ideal. However, once a portion of the concrete had been removed, the real situation became one of undrained soil that couldn’t be properly prepped.

“To me, it’s a dead issue,” said Wilson. “Put some gravel in it and leave it for now. We don’t want a crappy parking lot. We’re too late in the year to start a parking lot. Wait until you get good conditions. It’s like building a lake out there. It’s not going to dry out.”

Although the plan would provide a serviceable temporary lot, the result would be an extra expenditure. Whenever the final project begins, the temporary material, including any gravel trucked in, would be removed and disposed of. However, the necessity of providing a place to park would, in the end, be more important.

“You have to put something in there,” said trustee Lee Cornett. “You have to use the parking lot, don’t you Kevin? We have to do something. If you put big gravel in there, you’ll lose it over the winter, but it will at least be better than it is now.”

The trustees agreed that spending the time and money to create a quality parking lot would be more important than rushing the job. James was instructed to try and compact what is there currently and create a small paved walkway across it. Spaces would then be marked in a portion of the driveway for people to park in should the temporary lot become unusable due to winter weather.

“The first time it freezes, all of that stuff you compact will be all over the place,” said Cornett. “I don’t think you can depend on using that parking lot.”