Capen House construction hits snag

Sewer line in the way

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  • | 11:17 a.m. February 19, 2014
Photo by: Tim Freed - Two halves of the Capen House wait for a foundation after finding a buried obstacle.
Photo by: Tim Freed - Two halves of the Capen House wait for a foundation after finding a buried obstacle.
  • Winter Park - Maitland Observer
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A sewer pipe beneath the future site of the historic Capen House may slow down the effort to reunite the split home on its new foundation – a potential holdup that would hang on donations from local residents.

Plans to place the house on the grounds of the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden hit a snag as early as December when construction workers discovered the 60-year-old manhole and sewer line.

Future concerns about repairing the old clay pipes with the house already in place forced general contractor Frank Roark to pursue installing new piping, which would circumvent the flow around the house instead.

Polasek Museum Executive Director Debbie Komanski said that estimates to redirect the sewer line range from $12,000 to $50,000, which would need to be raised before the pipe can be addressed.

“That obviously wasn’t a budget item that anybody foresaw back last August when we started this,” Komanski said.

“The manhole had been covered up for years.”

The Polasek Museum raised more than $400,000 in donations since last summer to move the house from its original location by Dec. 31 and save it from demolition. The extra funding needed to move the sewer pipe shouldn’t take long to raise, Komanski said.

But fundraising has slowed down since the Capen House arrived on the Polasek Museum grounds in December. The project still needs between $100,000 and $150,000 to get the house completely rebuilt and refurbished, Komanski said.

The remaining funding needed for the project back in December sat within that range at $120,000 to $130,000, the Observer reported Dec. 11.

The project’s success in saving the home from demolition may be the reason fundraising has slowed down since then, Komanski said.

“The real crisis of the demolition ball was passed,” Komanski said. “Fundraising has gone rather quiet as of the year’s end. People who were going to make donations have made them earlier.”

Mayor Ken Bradley expressed concerns during last week’s City Commission meeting with the current pace of major projects within in the city, including the Capen House relocation effort.

“I don’t want to be a year from now looking at two halves to a Capen House,” Bradley said. “I don’t know what we have to do to encourage or if there’s anything we can do…it seems like something should give at some point.”

Komanski contacted City Manager Randy Knight earlier that day to see if the city would be willing to move the pipe if the museum reimbursed them for the cost.

The city likely wouldn’t use any taxpayer dollars to assist with the sewer line work, but Winter Park’s help would be the quickest, most ideal route, Komanski said.

Winter Park could potentially step in and redirect the pipe for $12,000, Knight said, giving the museum a much better value than the other estimates they’ve received.

An item requesting approval to help the museum with the sewer line and be reimbursed afterward will go before the City Commission at their next meeting, Knight said.

Roark should obtain the official construction permit to start putting the house on its foundation by the end of this week, Komanski said. The team hopes to solve the sewer line issue quickly and have both pieces of the house on their proper foundation by the end of March.


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