Courthouse needs exterior repairs

URBANA — About 10 years after it was repaired and added on to, the exterior of the Champaign County Courthouse needs a $300,000 repair job.

Members of the county board's Facilities Committee will meet Tuesday night to review plans to repair parts of both the original courthouse building (built in 1901 and remodeled more than a century later) and the larger addition to the east. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U.

The county's facilities director, Alan Reinhart, has recommended about $120,000 in repairs to the brick masonry of the old courthouse, plus about $185,000 to repair, clean and seal masonry, and to remove and replace joint sealants on the addition.

Money for the work will come from the county's courts construction fund, which has about $827,106 on hand, according to a memo from Reinhart.

"I think it will be what's sitting in that fund," said Stan James, chair of the county board's Facilities Committee. "Most warranties on anything are only for a year or so, unless it's so specified."

A report from the Urbana firm, IGW Architecture, says that cracking of face bricks on the south and west facade of the old, historic courthouse was observed, apparently the result of weather-induced expansion and contraction.

"None of the cracking appears to be caused by settlement of the building or deterioration of the masonry supporting elements," said IGW's Riley Glerum.

On the new courthouse addition, work includes replacing joint sealants and repairing, cleaning and sealing masonry that has been "compromised by airborne dirt and pollutants, efflorescence, various kinds of stains, organic growth and even graffiti," Glerum said.

James said he supports the repair work.

"It's maintenance that needs to be done," he said. "Any type of building like that that settles and moves, if we don't keep up with it, we'll end up with more money down the drain in the long run.

"If this doesn't get done, it will only get worse," sad James, a Republican from rural Rantoul. "I'm one of those folks, I'd rather be proactive with preventive maintenance than retroactive when you've got several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage."

He said he was not surprised by the calls for repairs.

"Alan (Reinhart) located a manual from about 2008 about the need for regular repairs. A lot of that stuff is just the weather," he said. "It's one of those things, but if we don't do it, it will only get worse.

"It's something the county should always be mindful of. Instead of building all the time, we need to take care of what we've got."

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