Rebuilt tower will need new base

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Rebuilding the historic Huson Water Tower will require a beefed-up foundation.

That will delay the project, but restoring the historic structure destroyed in an arson fire almost a year ago will happen, the City Council learned at their May 31 meeting.

City Administrator Brian Yerges and architect Mark Pfaller reported on the bid opening for the tower replacement.

There was good news and bad news in the bids, Yerges allowed, along with not-so-good news from tests conducted concurrently on the tower’s foundation, which is the only thing remaining from the landmarked structure after an arson last year.

Of three bids received on the base project, rebuilding the tower, and the alternate bid, restoring the cupola and windmill atop the tower, the lowest base bid was $164,000 from MZ Construction of Linden in Iowa County.

The other base bids were $302,549 from Capelle Bros. & Diedrich of Fond du Lac and $317,245 from Quasius Construction of Sheboygan.

“The MZ bid is a lot closer to the dollar amount we had anticipated,” Yerges noted.

However, MZ bid $35,000 for the alternate work, higher than either

Quasius ($19,136) or Capelle ($32,240).

“The alternate bid was obviously way more than anyone anticipated, especially the historical society,” Yerges commented.

Because the cupola and windmill were removed decades before the tower burned down, the city’s insurance coverage will only pay to replace the tower itself, minus a $15,000 deductible.

The Plymouth Historical Society had requested the replacement of the cupola and windmill, the cost of which the society said it would cover.

Yerges said PHS President Dan Buckman has indicated the society “does not have $35,000 for the project.

“That part of the project could be phase two and could come back in a year or two,” Yerges told the council.

In response to a question from Alderman Jim Sedlacek, Yerges said the tower design includes provision for easily adding the cupola and windmill at a later date, if necessary.

A pull test on the iron rods that are part of the original foundation brought other bad news, Yerges continued, with two of the four rods failing the test.

“Most of us thought those weren’t going to fail and (the foundation) was good to go,” Pfaller admitted.

The test was designed to determine how the rods would hold the tower in place in high winds, Pfaller explained.

“It is an easy fix,” Pfaller assured the council.

He said the low bidder, MZ Construction, had been contacted and agreed to hold the contract in abeyance until a design for a new foundation is completed.

“We talked to the insurance company and they’re fine with it,” Pfaller added.

“We have to build (the tower) to certain standards or else the insurance company would not reimburse us,” Yerges explained. “The plan will be in the next two to three weeks to work out a new foundation system.

“Although it’s a little bit of a setback, it is manageable,” Yerges stated. “The good thing is, it’s better to have that problem now than to have it (the tower) fail later in a storm.”

One of the two people charged in the June 19, 2015, arson fire, Andrew Manderle, was sentenced to eight years in prison last month by Sheboygan County Circuit Court Branch One Judge L. Edward Stengel.

Manderle, 35, pleaded guilty to one of two counts of arson of a building without the owner’s consent, a felony, on May 2. Manderle will also serve six years on extended supervision following completion of his prison sentence.

In a letter to Stengel, Manderle said he was under the influence of LSD, heroin and alcohol at the time of the fire.

The second person charged, Kylie Unterweger, 20, is scheduled for a plea hearing in Branch One Monday, July 11, and for a jury trial Thursday, July 21.

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