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Library board and CMBRG concerned about water in municipal building basement

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Members of the Colfax Public Library Board and the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group are concerned about water in the basement of the Colfax Municipal Building.

Lisa Ludwig, director of the Colfax Public Library, reported at the library board’s meeting July 15 that following recent heavy rains, she had discovered puddles of water on the floor in the basement.

Colfax received five or more inches of rain on July 6 and another inch and a half of rain a week later.

Ludwig had taken pictures of the water puddles and showed them to those who attended the meeting.

The water was a half inch to an inch deep in the back hallway of the basement, she said.

Ludwig noted that she was not sure if the water had seeped up from the floor or if it had run into the building at the foundation and down the walls.

The water in the basement causes Ludwig to wonder if the sandstone foundation of the building is solid  or whether it has become saturated with water and is in danger of collapsing from the weight of the two-story building.

The water also causes her to be concerned about air quality in the building from mold spores for both library employees and for library patrons.

And the library’s summer reading program is a concern, Ludwig said.

The Colfax Public Library’s Summer Reading program is held outside in Tower Park next to the library.

If the weather is too hot or it is raining or a thunderstorm is moving in, the library does not have room to accommodate 60 children and their parents and other adults, but the basement is not in useable condition, she said.

But whether the basement is useable, it also is not handicapped accessible. The municipal building auditorium, which could serve as a venue for the summer reading program, is not handicapped accessible either, Ludwig said.

Joan Scharlau, president of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, attended the library board meeting to talk about the basement.

Scharlau said members of CMBRG had wanted to meet with the Colfax Village Board to discuss solving the water problem, but that so far, she has not been successful at arranging a meeting with the village board.

CMBRG solicited bids for fixing the foundation of the municipal building to prevent moisture from infiltrating the basement, Scharlau said.

The two separate bids received were about $20,000 each, she said, adding that the solution to the water problem proposed in the bids would be to install a membrane around the outside of the foundation.

Scharlau said she had wanted to propose that CMBRG would pay $10,000 toward installing the moisture-barrier membrane if the village would pay $10,000.

The village is currently holding nearly $78,000 in donations that were intended to be put toward restoring the municipal building.

The donations for the municipal building were given before CMBRG officially became a non-profit organization, so the village held the funds donated for the municipal building, Scharlau said.

The donated money has never been spent on the purpose for which it was given, and the village has not disbursed that money to CMBRG, she said.

According to financial statements prepared for the Village of Colfax by Bauman Associates for the 2014 audit, a total of $77,912 is in a restricted fund intended for future improvements of the village hall from donations and grants.

Other funds identified in the financial statement include $165,280 in assigned funds for future improvements to the village hall.

The Colfax Village Board spent $16,000 two years ago to clean up the basement because of mold and mildew and to remove the wood floor but did not address the source of the water infiltration.

The Colfax Municipal Building basement has not been used since the late 1990s because of water problems.

The Colfax Public Library Board and the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group planned to request that they be placed on the agenda for the Colfax Village Board’s July 27 meeting to discuss the municipal building basement.