CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston City Council approved a contract change order of nearly $500,000 to fix a leaky roof at one of Charleston's six city parking garages.Also Tuesday, council members agreed to buy plastic trash bags for the city's twice-yearly handout to homeowners, but learned the fall giveaway will be delayed about three weeks.The $479,136 change order with Carl Walker Construction Co. was needed after the contractors found the top deck of Garage No. 3 (commonly called the Greyhound garage) was in much worse shape than expected, City Engineer Chris Knox said.The Pittsburgh-based contractors have been working on four of the city's parking garages for months as part of a multiyear plan to repair and modernize the aging garages, Knox said. The original plan for this year was simply to remove and replace damaged portions of Garage No. 3's upper deck under the $598,391 contract."By the time we got to the garage, 80 percent needed replacement," he said. "This was scheduled for next year. We were there to work on the structural supports."Instead, the company will remove and replace the entire topping slab -- the topmost 1 1/2-inch-thick reinforced concrete layer of the roof deck -- and install new floor drains and coated cable wire barriers along the exterior walls.City Manager David Molgaard said he'll squeeze money from the budget to cover the extra cost."I'm happy to say we're not borrowing money to do this," he said. "In the past we would have issued revenue bonds. By spreading [the repairs] out, we're able to pay for it as we go."Councilman Chris Dodrill questioned the annual purchase of trash bags. He had raised the issue early this year during the budget-making process but won little support. He asked during the finance committee meeting if corporations might help sponsor the $270,000 expense.
Molgaard said there was little time to look for sponsors. "We're piggybacking on the state contract," he said. "We're already three weeks behind, and I can tell you, people know when they're supposed to come out. We'll start getting phone calls."The city will try a different distribution system this fall because some people don't like to pick up bags under the interstate along Pennsylvania Avenue -- the regular spot for the last few years, he said."This year we would do two weeks of distribution under the interstate and one week at McFarland Street, so they could drive by and pick up their bags. After that, they'd have to come in."In other business Tuesday, council members authorized the city to apply for a grant of up to $5 million through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.Molgaard, who last week unveiled the city's plan to try to lure bright young people to the city in part by building rent-subsidized apartments at the Holley Hotel site on Quarrier Street, summarized the plan for finance committee members.People recruited to live in the apartments for three years would also go through a three-year training program, exposing them to city leaders, he said. "We'll let them tell us what we need and put together a plan to address the issues they've identified.
"I would also give businesses an edge. Businesses could use this as a recruiting tool."Charleston is competing with nearly 400 other communities, including big cities like Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, Molgaard said.Reach Jim Balow at email@example.com or 304-348-5102.