During a conference meeting last week, Mobile County commissioners discussed a $50,000 proposal to address fresh leaks at Government Plaza in downtown Mobile — a problem that has persisted for decades and has already cost the county millions of dollars.

The latest request was presented on the agenda as a fix for “water intrusion.” When Assistant County Engineer Brian Kegley was asked to clarify the problem, he said, “Mother Nature is getting into this building.”

According to Kegley, the “leakage” is affecting the 10th, 5th and 3rd floors in the building, including areas upgraded in a $1 million suite of renovations the county completed earlier this year.

Since construction was completed on the $73 million, 581,000-square-foot building in 1994, rainwater leaking through the roof has remained an issue. In 2012, the county awarded a $3.1 million contract to Team-Craft Roofing Inc. to address persistent leaks in the building’s atrium, though after delays in the project, another $235,000 was added via change orders.

Those repairs came with a 20-year guarantee from the contractor, and according to county spokesperson Katherine Eddy the agreement is holding up because the current “water intrusion” isn’t originating from the atrium or roof area.

“This is coming from the window curtain wall, which just means the wall of windows going down the side of the building,” Eddy said. “This is a professional services contract to develop the project and figure out what needs to be done to solve the problem.”

The county is considering awarding the $50,000 contract to The Architects Group Inc., who would then submit plans to address the current leaks coming through some of the building’s windows.

County considers upgrades to city park
Also on Thursday, commissioners briefly discussed using $50,000 of the county’s capital improvement funds to construct a basketball court at Herndon Park — often referred to as Sage Park — at the corner of Sage Avenue and Dauphin Street.

If approved, the court would be constructed through a joint contract with the city of Mobile, which owns the park. However, in the past the county purchased a roughly 5 percent interest in Herndon Park, allowing municipal bond revenue to be used for improvements that government entities are normally limited to using on improvements to their own assets.

This is far from a new practice in Mobile County. It’s fairly routine for commissioners to enter into agreements with smaller municipalities in the county as well as the boards of public school systems. As a result of the county securing a small interest in those properties, the commission has been able to provide financial assistance to a significant number of public projects in the past.

Anticipating future contributions toward improvements at the Mount Vernon Senior Center, commissioners will vote on taking a similar 5 percent interest in that property at their next meeting.