Fred Shelton

According to Chief Fred Shelton, roof leaks at the Columbus Police Department have become so severe that they are flooding part of the building.

Shelton, speaking at Thursday’s City Council business session, said the leaks, which have existed for years, are becoming more serious and fixing problem areas is no longer enough.

The CPD is housed in the municipal complex, along with the municipal court.

“This time last Thursday we had a flood at the police department,” Shelton said. “This time the water went further, from the patrol division to the hall. We have estimates to fix and replace, and if we fix, the water will just find another way in.

Shelton characterized the leak “not as a drip, but as a flood”. He said the floors had been damaged, as had some equipment.

CPD does not have the money in its budget to replace the roof, he said.

City engineer Kevin Stafford said one of the main issues was the HVAC penetration points, which have all been fixed “numerous times”. He also said the roof was poorly maintained.

“There are leaves that have landed on the roof,” he said. “There was a tree growing from some of the leaves up there that had decayed over time and formed good enough soil for the birds to bring a seed and plant a tree in. (Maintenance) a or twice a year should take care of it.

Stafford gave three estimates, depending on the extent of repairs the city wished to undertake. The cheapest is to repair the roof again, which will fix the immediate problems at a cost of $10,000 to $12,000.

“That will save you potentially a year, potentially five years depending on how the work holds up and how the storms evolve,” he said.

The second option is to cover the existing roof, which would cost around $220,000 to $240,000, he said.

“Because you have this penetration, the decking got wet,” he said. “It’s cheaper, and it will stop your leaks, but then you have the possibility of it all breaking down under there.”

The final, most expensive option is to remove and replace the existing roof, he said, which would cost around $590,660.

“These three options were executed by a contractor in February of this year,” he said. “There are areas that are worse than others, and that’s obviously what you would prioritize if you (corrected).”

Mayor Keith Gaskin suggested looking at roof leaks from the city-owned strip mall adjacent to the civic complex as well.

“Prices will continue to rise,” he said. “They also have bad leaks at the (crime lab). I went there and saw their buckets. We should work out a plan to do both.

Ward 3 Councilor Rusty Greene said he thought the council should repair the roof to meet immediate needs and then find a way to re-roof the building.

“If we go above $10,000, it will at least prevent the situation from getting worse,” Greene said. “Then we will see how to find $600,000. If we pass this Tuesday evening, can they start the next day?

“It’s under $50,000, so we can get two quotes,” Stafford said. “We can probably kick off the crime lab and it will still be under $50,000.”

Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.