Roof leak damages courthouse in Annapolis after storms

February 01, 2000|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

There was a leak at the courthouse, one that came straight from the top -- the roof.

The discovery was made when melting snow made an unscheduled appearance last week in Courtroom 3E of the $62 million Anne Arundel County Circuit Court House, completed in December after years of renovations and construction.

It bubbled paint, stained ceiling panels, soaked carpeting and damaged drywall.

The leak -- caused when a temporary seal failed to adhere entirely -- was quickly fixed. General contractor C.E.R. Inc. of Arbutus promptly agreed to repair damage caused by the cascade.

"The taxpayers will not pay any of it," said court administrator Robert G. Wallace. Still, he said, "It's just the kind of thing that drives you nuts. Who wants a leak in our new building? I don't."

Neither does Mike Phillips, who has managed C.E.R.'s four-year overhaul of the courthouse in downtown Annapolis.

But he played down the damage, which was not severe enough to close the affected courtroom.

"While aesthetically it doesn't look too appealing, it's not major," Phillips said. He estimated the repairs will cost $5,000 to $10,000. The problem stemmed from the removal two weeks ago of a temporary staircase built between phases of the construction.

After the final phase was completed in December, the staircase was no longer needed, so workers demolished it the weekend of Jan. 15.

Initially, Phillips said, construction workers patched the hole with a temporary seal. A snowstorm Jan. 20, which dumped 6 inches on Annapolis, caused leaking, but Phillips described it as minor.

Confident the seal would hold, workers planned to install a permanent roof section Friday. The forecast seemed to bode well, with no big storm on the horizon.

"When you open up a roof, you obviously watch the weather," Phillips said.

Then last week's wallop deposited more than a foot of snow on the state capital. By the time forecasters realized the storm's size, C.E.R.'s employees were at home.

The next day, as it became clear how badly the seal had failed, company workers helped court officials mop up the water. On Friday, they fixed the temporary seal.

On Saturday, workers returned to complete the roof job, Phillips said, just as a third storm -- this one bearing a slippery melange of ice and snow -- blew toward the area.

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