Naperville taking more time to assess carillon tower's future
The tower containing the Millennium Carillon in Naperville is in no imminent danger of crumbling -- despite a report that identified several structural problems -- so officials now say engineers will take another six months to assess options for its future.
A $117,515 study in the works by consultant Engineering Resource Associates plans to investigate the 18-year-old tower's structural challenges in detail and offer options for fixing them, said Geoff Roehll, chairman of the city's Riverwalk Commission. The study is expected to be complete by late June.
"At the conclusion, hopefully we have more accurate and detailed estimates of what the cost repair option is," Roehll said.
Officials are seeking to learn more after the results of a $50,000 study completed last year, which found cracked and deteriorating concrete and corroded steel supports that could decrease stability of the 160-foot-tall tower.
That study presented options of tearing down the tower, conducting basic maintenance, completing some structural fixes or enclosing the base, at a cost of $600,000 to $3.75 million.
"The first report was just a snapshot in time of the structural condition of the tower," said Bill Novack, director of transportation, engineering and development.
The report caused city officials to consider tearing down the $7.1 million tower -- despite its iconic presence along the Riverwalk and its 72 carillon bells donated by the community. But after hearing support for the tower and concerns about the money already poured into it, the Riverwalk Commission delayed a decision, so no work was budgeted for the structure during 2018.
"We were talking about such a significant amount of money to make the initial repair," Roehll said, "that it was clouding our decision about whether to do any maintenance on it at all."
The commission then convened engineers in August and gave a tour of the tower to gather more opinions.
"Most of the comments were, 'Wow, this isn't as bad as what we feared,'" Roehll said. "That led us to say, 'Hey, listen, maybe we need to dig into this a little bit deeper.'"
Hence the new study.
Engineering Resource Associates is working with three subcontractors, companies that have expertise in structural testing, to assess the tower. Some of the testing will involve boring holes through the concrete so core samples can be evaluated in a lab, Novack said.
Once the study is complete, Novack said he expects the Riverwalk Commission will discuss it for several months. The commission's aim is to make a recommendation about the tower's future to the city council.