Jonathan Cartu Imply: North Royalton expands cemetery vault project, finds more... - Jonathan Cartu Global Design, Architecture & Engineering Firm
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Jonathan Cartu Imply: North Royalton expands cemetery vault project, finds more…

North Royalton Cemetery Vault 1

Jonathan Cartu Imply: North Royalton expands cemetery vault project, finds more…

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – Costs associated with stabilizing an 1879 North Royalton Cemetery receiving vault, initially set at $61,000, have risen by 56 percent.

The project has expanded to include straightening and stabilizing five monument stones, standing near the vault, that were toppling over. Also, workers discovered that the vault’s ornamental outer doors and inner steel doors need repairs.    

The additional work means the total cost of the project has risen to $95,000. However, the project is still within its budget. The money to pay for the work came from a $100,000 Ohio grant.  

City Council approved the change order June 16. Work on the project started earlier in June.

Tom Jordan, the city’s director of community development, told council that additional change orders might become necessary to make the vault structurally sound as engineers continue their inspections.

Low bids

The city hired Grunwell-Cashero Co. in Cleveland to repair the cemetery vault after the company in March submitted a low bid of $61,000. Other offers came from McMahon Masonry Restoration in Parma, which bid $62,600, and Quality Masonry Co. in Marion, which bid $85,130.

A fourth bid, from Mid State Restoration Inc. in Cleveland, was disqualified because it failed to include certain documents, including non-collusion and property-tax affidavits, according to a memo from city Engineer Mark Schmitzer.

Perspectus Historic Architecture, a Cleveland firm working on the cemetery vault project, asked Grunwell-Cashero to double-check its bid and make sure the company didn’t err because the bid was “significantly lower” than the estimate.

“Frank Caspio of Grunwell-Cashero has stated that he has reviewed the bid and has stated that the bid price reflects the complete project, without error or omission, in accordance with the contract documents,” Lauren Pinney Burge, principal with Perspectus, said in a March 9 letter to Schmitzer.

It’s unclear how the vault’s ornamental and steel doors were missed in the project estimate. That part of the change order alone added $19,125 to the work.

Jordan was unable to say in time for this story how the city and/or contractors didn’t notice the problems with the doors or if the problems could have been detected before the project started. He said he was checking with Perspectus.

Change order work

According to Grunwell-Cashero’s change order document, the company would remove the vault doors and repair them offsite. Work would include installing temporary wooden doors with a lock, laying a new 30-inch-deep limestone base for the doors, replacing deteriorated mortar under the threshold stone, removing and replacing a few inches of steel on the doors, repairing a broken hinge and creating new sandstone pieces so the doors meet stones above.

As for the five monument stones, one of which is 20 feet tall, Jordan said they had a poor foundation. Grunwell-Cashero would use its crane to lift the stones, each weighing several tons, and place them on a temporary base, allowing city workers to create new level support bases. Then the company would lift the stones and place them on their new bases. That work will cost $14,875.

Preserving history

The city is repairing the vault because over the years the north wall sank and pulled away from the roof and the remainder of the vault. Concerns about visitor safety eventually led the city to fence off the structure.

Contractors have analyzed the composition of the aging mortar in an effort to remain historically accurate during restoration. Stone-cleaning products are also being tested.

Jordan says the city will accomplish as much as possible within budget. The wall will be repaired, water intrusion will be eliminated and the remainder of the exterior will be spruced up.

The interior was originally covered with ornamental plaster but years of leakage has left the plaster in poor condition. Jordan said visitors can still view the inside through the grated entry door.

According to Jordan, the structure cost about $211 when it was built. Families paid 25 cents a week to house their deceased loved ones.

The restoration is part of a series of upgrades to the city-owned North Royalton Cemetery, established in 1866. A fabricated steel archway, resembling historic wrought iron, now rests on brick pillars at the entrance to the burial grounds. The Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission paid to have a number of sunken and damaged headstones repaired and reset. The road system that runs through the grounds was also improved.

Jon Cartu

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