As a cold, hard rain gusted against Pierre Tuesday evening, the Pierre City Commission declared an emergency over the roof of City Hall.

It had been leaking for some time and on Tuesday a work crew was on top of the decade-old two-story office building on Patron Parkway behind Northridge Mall doing a quick fix, said City Engineer John Childs.

“As we are all aware, we have had some issues with the roof in this building,” Childs told the Commission Tuesday at its weekly meeting. “Primarily they are derived from wind issues, that have torn the roof in a few places and that is where the leaks have originated.”

The last weekend of April saw driving rains and leaks that made their way down to a couple of City Hall offices on the first floor, wetting carpets and desks. It had happened earlier this spring, too, and the city had crews do some patching.

On Tuesday, the Commission and ancillary city officials were warm and dry in their still-new digs on the first floor. But the inclement weather Tuesday did mean some leaks again and a crew from Chase Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc. of Fort Pierre again was up on the roof, Childs told the Capital Journal.

The building was constructed a decade ago by the Pierre Economic Development Corporation to attract and house Eagle Creek Software, which at the time projected bringing more than 200 employees to Pierre. By 2014, Eagle Creek reported having 100 employees in Pierre with plans to add nearly 200 more.

But things didn’t go that way and a couple years ago Eagle Creek, down a a couple dozen employees or so, asked PEDCO to reduce their lease and let them use half the building only.

When Commissioner Steve Harding was elected mayor in the summer of 2017, one of his first moves was announcing the city would move out of the 60-year-old, too-small, too-old building on Dakota Avenue downtown to the 10-year-old building on the northeast end of town that was more than twice as large. City Hall comprises first floor; Eagle Creek continues to use second floor. The city bought it from PEDCO and moved in last summer.

Childs said the roof problem can’t be blamed successfully on the original contractor, from Sioux Falls, because its warranty was for 55 mph winds and it has shown the city proof that winds in Pierre have been higher than that.

The emergency declaration recommended by Childs, moved by Commissioner Jamie Huizenga and passed 5-0 by the Commission, will allow the city to forego the normal bid-letting process in favor of quickly hiring a contractor to quickly fix the problem.

That would be Chase Roofing, which gave the city two options: take off the old roof’s membrane and metal flashings, down to the insulation. Install a layer of wood fiber board over the insulation, then 60 millimeters, about 2.4 inches, thick plastic membrane covered and held down by a “ballast” of about six inches deep of small rounded rocks; and new metal flashings and trimmings , including downspouts.

For $76, 430. And a 15-year warranty including withstanding 80 mph winds.

The Commission voted for the plan.

The other option was a screwed-in part-plastic “coverboard” over the insulation instead of the rock ballast, which would be problematic for the pre-fab concrete building, and would cost more: $113,722, Childs said.

By declaring an emergency, which under state law allows the city to avoid the longer process of preparing and letting bids, the city will save a month of fixing time and Chase Roofing will have the new roof on by “Fourth of Julyish,” Childs told the Capital Journal.

Childs said having a local contractor that he knows can do the work, and which has already been “very responsive,” is much better than trying to get the original contractor to fix the roof, Childs told the Capital Journal.

Any delays and the city risks seeing more damage from the leaky roof, he said.

Insurance proceeds should will help pay for the new roof, but the final amount isn’t known yet, Finance Officer Twila Hight told the Commission.

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