Construction Snag Prompts Discussion on Future of Nichols Park Pavilion

By Jeremy Coumbes on September 28, 2021 at 3:31pm

A construction change order prompted discussion on the future of the Nichols Park Pavilion during last night’s City Council meeting.

Work has begun on the replacement of the more than 7,000 square feet of roof on the Nichols Park Pavilion that was approved by the council back in April.

Jacksonville Parks Manager Adam Fletcher told the council that the contractor has determined the underlayment for the roof cannot be saved and also needs to be replaced.

As you all know the pavilion out at Nichols Park is quite old. There are a lot of things that come up. They did not know what they were getting into until they started tearing the roof off, and unfortunately, with a building of that age you’re going to have some issues that come up and the underlay of the roof to attach the shingles is in a little worse shape than they anticipated. So that’s why we have that change order to discuss. It’s one of those things that we didn’t know until they started tearing it off and here we are.”

The project now requires new 7/16 OSB sheathing to be installed. Reg Benton of Benton and Associated who is the engineering firm overseeing the work, says covering the entire roof with new sheathing will cost an additional $29,670.00.

Benton says a credit of approximately $4,500 that was figured into the original estimate for subsurface work would be credited to the project upon its completion.

Ward 3 Alderman Kent Hannant questioned the order during the workshop discussion and asked if a metal roof could be put on the pavilion. Hannant said that shingles would only last 25 years and a future city council would have to discuss their replacement and expense at that time.

Benton said project planners did not deviate from the original expressed construction appearance which is asphalt shingles. He says metal roofs can be very difficult right now. Benton says they currently have a small roof in Winchester requiring a metal roof and have been told it’s going to be 8 to 10 months before the supplier could get that much metal roofing for that project.

Hannant said he pulled the numbers and from 2016 to 2019, and the pavilion has been rented for use 50 times netting an average of $3,000 per year. He says he does not feel the return is worth the investment.

During further discussion, both Mayor Andy Ezard and Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook both pointed to the previous work and funds spent on renovating and updating the pavilion, with Ward 4 Alderman Mike Wankel adding that when the City Council started this process some years ago, it was the wish of all involved to restore and maintain the Nichols Park Pavilion after years of neglect. He said, “right now we have a roof that is partially torn off so we don’t have a choice.”

Benton says they did a cost analysis recently and thought a metal roof would have nearly twice the life expectancy as an asphalt shingle roof, the material currently costs twice as much and it would also not meet historic specifications.

Hannant says that he feels the building is historic because it is old, and not because it is historical. Mayor Ezard said he does not believe they can stop the project and leave the pavilion exposed to the outside elements in order to take back to the Parks and Lakes Committee to discuss a full closure of the pavilion.

Both Ezard and Wankel also commented that the project has already been approved by the council and an unknown at that time but nonetheless significant portion of the contracted work would still need to be paid by the city.

Ward 5 Alderman Don Cook said that he believes the city does need to do a better job of promoting the pavilion’s use to the public. Ultimately the City Council approved the change order during regular session 8-1, with Hannant being the lone no vote.