St. Landry Parish government is faced with finding additional revenue for replacing over 200 windows that will now be included as part of an original $324,000 courthouse weatherization project that began last week.
Parish Council members convened a special meeting Tuesday night to discuss the removal and purchase of 278 new windows that Finance Chairman Wayne Ardoin said were discovered to be leaking and rusted following the start of a renovation project.
The steel-framed windows were installed when the new Courthouse construction was completed in 1939 and the deterioration since then has apparently begun to cause water seepage problems elsewhere in the building, said Parish President Jessie Bellard.
“There’s really no way to fix the problem other than installing new ones. These windows are part of the original building,” Bellard said.
Initial estimates Bellard said indicate that it will cost about $415,000 to replace all the current windows and frames and replace them with new ones made of bronze and aluminum materials.
The Council on Tuesday night approved hiring architectural and engineering firms that will oversee the window replacements, according to Bellard.
“I think that when we finish redoing all the windows that they are really going to look nice. Not only will the windows be new, but there will be new frames. That will help keep outside weather out of the building,” Bellard explained.
Bellard said the ancillary costs of window replacement won’t be an item that needs financial committee approval.
The old windows have also caused continuous problems on the north end of the Courthouse building, Bellard said.
“In the winter time you especially notice it. You can feel the wind going through the walls. Due to the leaking windows, water has been going into the building in that area. That is something we will have to also look at and get the opinions from architects and engineers,” said Bellard.
Ardoin questioned why the contractor firm hired to perform the weatherization apparently failed to include replacing windows that are 83 years old.
“It seems to me that should have been done when the contractors performed an assessment before bidding on the project,” said Ardoin.
Looking at the overall project costs
The overall Courthouse improvement project includes repairing and sealing the exterior sandstone walls which have deteriorated since they were cleaned and sandblasted in 2005.
Revenue for the weatherization and sealing of the crevices that have formed in the sandstone are coming from American Rescue Act funding, Ardoin said.
Bellard said sandblasting performed on the Courthouse 17 years ago actually damaged the sandstone, opening up the seams in the building’s exterior surface.
Money for the windows will potentially come from either additional ARA funding, a line of credit established several years ago by parish government for emergency spending or perhaps state money scheduled to be sent to St. Landry for drainage projects next year, Bellard said.
“We have ARA money that we are scheduled to receive and that can be applied to other projects if necessary. If we can do that, then we won’t need to take some of the state money we should be getting for the drainage,” Bellard explained.