Initial report misjudges costs

Knox Center’s structural damage exceeds $10,000

By Benjamin Bassham, News Editor

Repairs to the Knox Center, after a drunk driver crashed into it, are scheduled to begin in two to three weeks, but at four times the predicted expense.

“It is a very high priority for us, so we’re pushing forward very quickly,” district Facilities Planner Ray Pyle said.

The Feb. 15 crash struck the corner of the women’s rest room, at the front of the theater. Initially, the damage was thought to be mostly cosmetic and easily repaired. The wall was cracked and pitted outside, the mirrors, soap dispensers and some drywall were knocked off inside.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said, “I had a contractor that did a real quick report.” The estimated price was $5,700, but the contractor didn’t open the wall to check inside.

The driver, Jesse Alexander Hix Dunning, didn’t have any insurance, which is bad news for everyone involved.

Business Services Director Mariles Magalong said, “We (Contra Costa College) have our own insurance, but we have a $10,000 deductible, so we have to pay for the first $10,000.”

King said, “We thought that if we did the landscaping ourselves, then it would be under the $10,000 deductible.” If it were, the college’s insurance would remain unused.

A week later, King brought help to inspect the damage in greater detail. King said the professional carpenter was concerned because it’s an area that’s sensitive.

Magalong said King and his staff peeled the wall open and found that structural beams had been damaged. She said, “When Bruce saw the structural damage, he said, ‘I think that’s going to be more than $10,000.’”

King said one beam had been shoved an inch off its foundation and cracks were found going several ways in the structure. King said it’s “just enough to make us nervous.”

Extra bracing was added to the structure to keep it secure while waiting for repairs.

King said, “We were lucky it didn’t hit pipes or electrical (wiring). We didn’t have to shut off power, water or gas. It didn’t affect utilities for the building at all. It’s just some (boards) that need to be replaced.”

The damaged rest room still remains open for use, supports and all.

The project was turned it over to Critical Solutions, CCC’s construction consultants, King said.

Pyle said bids were sought from three contractors, who inspected the site, and CCC selected the lowest price offered.

Magalong said she heard from Critical Solutions the cost would be about $27,000, Pyle estimated $20,000 and King said his best guess is $20-$25,000.

Pyle said the purchase requisition has been approved, and it’ll take about a week to sort out the insurance.

King said he doesn’t expect delays because there are no specialized parts to order, just stucco, sheet rock, two-by-fours, two-by-sixes and mirrors.