Mahoning County commissioners hired a local architectural and engineering firm to oversee restoration and preservation of the county courthouse.
The commissioners hired ms consultants inc. of Youngstown for $510,000 during their Thursday meeting in the basement of the 103-year-old courthouse.
The firm was recommended to the commissioners from among five applicants by a five-member selection committee of architects and county officials.
The choice followed a lengthy contractual dispute with the previous architectural firm, the 4M Co., which led to the commissioners’ decision last spring to advertise anew for architects and engineers to oversee the project.
The $510,000 fee for ms consultants represents 8.5 percent of the $6 million project cost.
“We’re just elated that we’ve finally gotten over the hump, and we see light at the end of the tunnel with respect to placing the bids out and getting the construction work done,” said David Ditzler, chairman of the commissioners.
“We’re moving forward to repair the upper part of the courthouse with the best professionals we could find,” said Architect Paul Ricciuti of Youngstown, who is advising the county on the project.
A structural engineer expressed her concerns in 2011 about the potential collapse of the support structure, from which copper rooftop statues were removed in October 2010, and over which a temporary roof is now in place for a fourth-consecutive winter.
Ricciuti said the first priority will be to restore the statue pedestal, where rusted carbon steel beams support granite slabs.
The structural engineer, Carol Stevens, also cited dangers she said were posed by rusted carbon steel anchorages that once secured the rooftop cornice and balustrade.
Any terra cotta that has to be removed from the cornice will likely be replaced with terra cotta, and the project will be done according to national and state historic restoration standards, Ricciuti said. Terra cotta is molded clay brick or block.
Every effort will be made to maintain regular courthouse activities during the restoration, which will continue into next year, Ricciuti said.
The courthouse, which has a granite exterior and a marble interior, opened March 6, 1911, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally published by the Youngstown Vindicator and written by Peter H. Milliken.