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Convention center leaking

Norman Ford, business administrator for the Vicksburg Convention Center and City Auditorium, points to a leaky seam in the convention center roof.(Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[8/26/04]Stopping the leaks in the seven-year-old, $13 million Vicksburg Convention Center could cost up to $500,000.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Wednesday to accept a proposal from JH&H Architects to draw up plans and cost estimates to make the repairs to the building. Problems include leaks in windows, the roof and the walls and have existed since the building was constructed.

“It wasn’t built right,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

JH&H Architects designed the building but did not oversee the construction by W.G. Yates Construction Co. of Philadelphia. City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the city went through binding arbitration with Yates over the leaks.

“It’s not the administration’s fault,” said North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young. “When we found the problem we went into arbitration and they didn’t rule in our favor.”

Norman Ford, the business administrator at the convention center, said the leaks are causing problems throughout the building. Paint is peeling off walls inside the exhibition hall and ceiling tiles fall in after most heavy rains, he said.

Ford said the cost of repairs will depend on what is found in the inspection by JH&H, but could be as high as $500,000. The inspection will cost about $12,000, Ford said.

“It really doesn’t matter what caused it; we need to fix it,” Ford said. Construction of the convention center was paid for with a $10 million bond issue in 1996. The city pays about $1.2 million per year to pay off that debt.

The bond is expected to be paid off with next year’s payment, according to Paul Rogers.

Revenue comes from rentals and concessions, a 2 percent tax added on all rooms in the city rented by the night and a general fund subsidy.

The center opened in 1997 and has gone through several up-and down-years. In 2001, Compass Property Management took over the day-to-day operations.

The city pays Compass a fee with incentives based on the financial performance of the property.

The city board also voted Wednesday to seek bids for repairs to the steps at the City Auditorium which is also managed by Compass.

In other matters the city board:

Approved the board meeting minutes from July 23, July 30 and Aug. 3.

Received bids for police uniform accessories.

Approved parade routes for the Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi on Oct. 2 and the March of Dimes on Nov. 6.

Approved a $140 advertisement in the St. Aloysius football program.

Approved payment of $2,361 to the Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport.

Reappointed Cheryl Comans to the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Amended the city code of ordinances to waive the adoption fee for animals at the city pound for nonprofit groups helping to place the animals in homes.

Entered an agreement with Parkway, LLC for utility meter reading services for the next year.

Adopted amendments to the fire department manual.

Approved a request from Charles Beall for an outdoor auction Saturday on Crawford Square.

Authorized the City Clerk to advertise for sealed bids for sidewalk improvements at Alcorn and Mission 66, an enclosed trailer for Homeland Security and a decontamination shelter for Homeland Security.

Approved the purchase of fencing for the Porters Chapel Road park for $15,000.

Approved the claims docket.

The city board will meet again at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 at City Hall Annex.