Repairs and cleaning the facade of the Dominion Public Building should be completed in the next two to three weeks.
AMHERST – Scaffolding covering much of the Dominion Public Building in downtown Amherst should start coming down in a matter of weeks.
Since purchasing the building from a Halifax developer several years ago and turning it into town hall, the town has wanted to clean the historic building’s façade. The original plan was to complete the work last year, but it was deferred until this year.
“The initial tender to clean the façade was awarded to Coastal Restoration and Masonry Limited in the amount of $17,235 plus HST,” town CAO Greg Herrett said. “Upon erection of the scaffolding it was discovered that there were some cracked stones in the building as well as a number of areas where the mortar is no longer present between the stones.”
What should have been a quicker job was slowed by necessity to repair the stones. Herrett said that at some point in the past, before the town took possession of the building, it was repointed and Portland cement was used.
He said the town was advised that Portland cement is very rigid and does not allow the stones to shift or move slightly. Rather, he added, stress builds and cracks occur.
“Water is entering the façade through cracked stones and areas where the mortar is missing,” Herrett said. “Freeze and thaw cycles cause further movement and cracking of the stones. The building is structurally sound and no stones are in danger of falling off the building.”
Because the of the cracks, Herrett said, the cleaning project had to be delayed. The contractor is fixing the cracks and joins before pressure washing the façade.
Herrett said the extra work is pushing the cost of the project up, but the town has the money to cover the cost.
“The original budget for the cleaning was $30,000 and the original contract was for $17,235. The additional work has resulted in a contract extra which will increase the cost to $62,817,” he said. “The additional costs are being finances through surpluses in other current year capital projects.”
Specifically, Herrett said, the town had budgeted $50,000 to build a new sidewalk on Cornwall Avenue in anticipation of the new West Highlands Elementary School. Since the budget was approved in the spring, the town has negotiated an agreement with the province that will see if finance the project. This freed that $50,000 u p for other projects if necessary.
Herrett said the repointing and sealing should be completed this week and the cleaning will start next week and take approximately two weeks.