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Sanford Center officials dealing with rainwater leaks

BEMIDJI -- The Sanford Center may have to spend as much as $80,000 to find out why the events center sometimes leaks rainwater, officials said Monday.

Mike Cronin, the center’s operations director, reported to the Sanford Center Advisory Board on Monday that prestressed panels on the side of the building were bowing, causing water leaks in the center’s ballroom and service corridor areas.

Cronin said the leaks were sporadic, the most recent occurring about a month ago.

“It really depends on which direction the rain is coming from and the force the rain is coming at,” he said.

Cronin said his staff has put extra sealant on the leaks they’ve found, and are looking into why the paneling is an issue so early in the building’s lifespan. The Sanford Center opened in October 2010.

“We think we’ve figured out the root location,” he said. “Now, what’s causing that panel to move?”

During the meeting, Bemidji City Manager John Chattin said he’s been in contact with Kraus-Anderson and Leo. A Daly, construction and architectural firms, respectively, that helped build the center.

“K-A and Leo A. Daly are wanting to work with us but not accept any responsibility,” Chattin said.

Having an independent consultant investigate the leak could cost between $30,000 and $80,000 and the work may cause additional damage to the Sanford Center, Chattin said.

After the meeting, Chattin said the city and the two firms have differences of opinion on how best to respond to the leaks. However, he was confident they could patch things up -- both metaphorically and literally.

“We may not have looked at the issues quite the same, but I’m sure that we will continue to work together to resolve it,” he said.

Chattin noted that Kraus-Anderson served in an advisory capacity during Sanford Center construction, not as general contractor that supervises subcontractors as K-A does with other projects. The city directly contracted with some 40 building firms to get the center completed, he said.

“If any of those other contractors wind up having to fix their issue, whatever that turns out to be, I’m sure Kraus-Anderson would be involved with directing some of that work,” he said.

Robert Fitzgerald, director of operations at Kraus-Anderson’s Bemidji office, said whether or not bowing panels were causing the leakage was yet to be determined as part of an investigation.

“The root source has not yet been identified,” he said. “K-A as a construction manager is advising the city on next steps that we think would be prudent for the investigation.”

Fitzgerald said K-A had recommended the city hire an independent consultant but had not yet selected a specific firm.

A call to Ted Redmond, vice president and managing principal at Leo. A. Daly’s Minneapolis office, was not immediately returned Monday.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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