Society explains lack of action with Basehor’s 1905 library
What was once two years of work by the Basehor Historical Museum Society to relocate the 1905 Reuben Basehor Library has stretched into a third year.
The society thought it had its work all but complete when, last February, it was able to raise $3,000 with the help of the community to fund the relocation of the city’s first public library from private property to Basehor City Park. With the building still in its original location nearly a year later, society members want to let their supporters and the community know that they are still working on the project.
“We want to let the community know, there’s a lot of rumors we’ve heard going around, but we are still trying to get it moved,” said Ken Massingill, member of the society board.
Massingill and Carla Crawford, volunteer director for the museum, say the problem as been a breakdown in communication with the firm hired to move the library, Patton Building and House Moving of Paola.
The society got quotes from about four different moving firms when they were beginning the effort to move the library, and Patton was by far the lowest. Crawford said the firm owners told the society that they liked to do historical preservation projects and were aware of the society’s need to raise more funds.
“They were generous in giving us a fair price,” she said. “So they were totally on board with the nature of the project.”
The society signed a contract with Patton and paid them a $2,500 deposit. The community then pitched in by donating more than 8,000 pairs of shoes to help the society raise $3,000 through the organization Funds2org, which will pay for donated shoes that it then uses to help start shoe stores in third-world countries.
A tentative move date was set for March. As part of the contract, the society found a local contractor who was willing to donate his services to build a foundation for the library in City Park.
The problem, the society says, is that Patton needed to determine the exact dimensions for the foundation. The society says the foundation will need to match beams used to support the building during the move; the movers have never given the society those dimensions, and the moving date has continually been pushed back.
“We have to build a foundation, but he’s going to have to tell us what it needs to look like,” Massingill said.
However, Trevor Patton, general manager of the firm, said he told the society they needed to do some other work before he could give them dimensions.
He said the society told him what they thought the depth of the footings was, but some preliminary inspection showed him the footings are much deeper than expected. He said because he is giving the society such a steeply discounted price, he told they they needed to do some digging to determine the exact depth of the building's footings.
"I can't have my equipment sitting under the (existing) foundation for a month or two until the (new) foundation is built; it's just not feasible for me," Patton said, adding that he has detailed this request in an email to the society.
Patton said the delay also is due to the weather. Wet conditions last year caused other projects Patton already had contracted to be delayed, as well, and he tries to complete projects in the order that they were contracted. He said he had 12 projects already under contract when he signed with the society.
The firm also has been busy with its East Coast operations, where it is helping correct foundations of homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The contract doesn’t give a specific move date or move-by date; it states that the contractor “agrees to perform the moving and raising operations in a workman-like manner and shall attempt to accomplish said moving operations within a reasonable time after signing this contract.”
Patton said the delay came down to weather delays creating a backlog of projects in addition to communication problems. He said he would be happy to give the society back its deposit, but he knows that other companies will not be able to give the society a better price.
Part of the urgency for moving the library was that the owner of the property it sits on had it for sale. The property has since sold, and Massingill said new owners thankfully have been willing to work with the society. However, he said, they wanted to put up a fence and have been holding off until library can get moved, so their fence has been continually delayed.
Crawford said she hopes the community, which did so much to support the effort to move the library last year, understands that the society is doing all it can.
“We’re doing our best to work on this project and get it completed,” she said. “We just think the supporters, the people who contributed money, shoes, the kids, they deserve an explanation as to what the hold up is, why this project hasn't moved forward.”