Columbia to staunch village center silo leak Water causing structural damage EAST COLUMBIA

May 04, 1993|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Staff Writer

Come rain or snow, Oakland Mills Village manager Susan Schmugge knows she's got another cleanup job in the making.

That's because a skylight in the roof of a barn silo, which serves as a stairwell for the village center, leaks. And leaks. And leaks.

"This is one of those cases of something breaking down over time that reaches a point where you can't let it go any longer," says Ms. Schmugge.

Water leaking through the skylight has caused not only cleanup work for Ms. Schmugge and her staff, but also is beginning to damage the structural integrity of the silo.

But within the next two weeks the Columbia Association, which manages Columbia's facilities, plans to launch a major restoration of the silo, a picturesque feature of the village center which originally was part of dairy farm operating on the site in the 1950s and '60s.

The silo and barn were converted in 1969 by Columbia's developer, Howard Research and Development, to serve as part LTC of the community village center.

Jackie Dewey, vice-president for the Columbia Association's community services division, said $33,000 has been allocated in the 1993-1994 budget for the project. She expects work to begin May 12.

The silo restoration is one of seven improvement projects for community buildings in Columbia this budget cycle.

Total budgeted cost for those projects is about $128,000.

Project money became available May 1, and Ms. Dewey said the only delay is wrapping up the bidding process for the work. The Columbia Association has already hired a project manager, Professional Contracting Inc, a Baltimore-based construction management firm.

The culprit for the badly needed restoration is the skylight located in the silo roof, she said.

"It appears to have been a bad design," she said.

Caulking around the skylight will be replaced and a drainage system installed.

The project will also involve replacing damaged tile mortar on the outside of the silo and restoration of damaged interior walls.

The leaking also appears to have caused the silo to bow near the foundation, said Ms. Dewey. An engineer has been hired to examine the structure and determine if structural work is needed to correct any bowing in the silo, she said.

"The main focus of the project is to maintain the integrity of the structure," Ms. Dewey said.

Repairs that need to be addressed do not present a danger to workers or visitors of the community center, she said.

The front access to the village center is located in the silo. That entrance will be closed periodically during the restoration project, but visitors and workers will continue to have unrestricted access through a back entrance.

Damage from the leak was found during a routine semi-annual inspection by Ms. Dewey and her staff last year.

Ms. Schmugge said that while leaking has occurred in the past, it has only been within the last year that the problem had become "very serious."

"There was a sudden change in the last year. I think all the heavy rain and the big snows we had this winter really were hard on it," said Ms. Schmugge.

Al Dunn, chairman of the Oakland Mills Village board, said residents of the community are pleased the Columbia Association will restore the silo rather than raze it.

"It's sort of a symbol for the community," he said.

Some Oakland Mills residents were upset in 1990 when the association decided to tear down a second silo, which also had served the dairy farm operation and been incorporated in 1969 as part of the village center design.

Ms. Dewey said that silo -- which was made of wood -- had to be razed because the structure had rotted beyond repair.

Once restoration work is completed on the standing silo, she said, additional major repairs shouldn't be needed for 25 years.

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