The scaffolding that had enveloped City Hall in a web of steel and green mesh for most of the year is being removed step by step, showing off the latest glistening phase of the city’s restoration project on Gloucester’s iconic seat of its city government.
Crews from the Peabody-based Campbell Construction finished restoring the four ventilation towers, rebuilding the furnace chimney, and pulling down most of the scaffolding on the City Hall roof.
Members of the City Hall Restoration Committee, which oversees the project, say Campbell will finish the full phase of the roughly $2.6 million project by Thanksgiving, and that’s a month ahead of the late December deadline the committee had set in January.
City Facilities Manager Jim Hayfe said crews have some work on the lower part of the clock tower left to do, followed by repairs to the City Hall cornices. The last thing Campbell does, will be to restore the porticos over the entrances, said committee member J.J. Bell.
Hayfe said a clear summer and a mostly clear fall helped to keep the project moving.
“Weather is a big factor,” he said. “It was a terrific summer and pretty good fall, too.”
On top of the other work that Campbell completed, Hayfe said the contractor installed guards on the copper gutters and snow breaks on the roof. The gutter guards, he said, will keep the gutters from getting clogged with, among other things, pigeon carcasses left behind by the peregrine falcons that have come to call City Hall home.
Along with the restoration work, crews from the Department of Public Works have carried out several repairs making City Hall accessible in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. DPW crews will also start fixing railings soon, Hayfe said, another set of repairs designed to bring the building up to ADA standards.
The city was required to make ADA repairs under federal law because the restoration costs far exceeded City Hall’s $1.79 million assessed value. In doing that, Bell said the city was awarded a $45,000 Community Development Block Grant to upgrade the basement bathrooms and put in assisted door opening devices. The rest of the ADA work, Bell said, will need further funding, but the city has around four years to finish all the improvements.
The restoration work, said Steve Dexter — committee member and president of Carroll K. Steele Insurance Co. — also came in under budget. The budget included $250,000 in contingency on top of the base $2.3 million spending plan, but the city had bonded $2.6 million in Community Preservation Act funding for the restoration work.
Dexter said the remaining funds will go toward fixing City Hall windows.
“The current plan is to do as many windows as possible (under the remaining budget),” Bell said.
After this work is finished, Bell said, the committee will focus on completing window repair work and repainting some of building’s brick and masonry work.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.