Cost estimates coming for repairs to Naperville's iconic bell tower

  • Cost estimates for fixing cracked concrete and corroded exterior steel at Moser Tower in Naperville, which holds the Millennium Carillon, could be available in December.

      Cost estimates for fixing cracked concrete and corroded exterior steel at Moser Tower in Naperville, which holds the Millennium Carillon, could be available in December. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/10/2018 1:21 PM

Naperville officials expect to wait at least another few months before they know how much it might cost to fix what's arguably the most iconic element of the city's skyline: Moser Tower, home of the Millennium Carillon.

A draft addition released last month to update a 2017 report revealed the 160-foot-tall spire is in better shape than initially feared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The addendum by Engineering Resource Associates of Warrenville showed the 18-year-old tower has suffered minimal corrosion of structural steel and taken on negligent levels of chlorides, or salts, which can damage concrete. The tower also was found to have been assembled correctly according to plans, which called for precast concrete pillars strengthened by seven compression rings and post-tensioning anchors.

"The structural integrity of Moser Tower is maintained, so that's all good news," Brian Dusak with Engineering Resource Associates told members of the city's Riverwalk Commission Wednesday morning, as they began a review of the draft report.

The Riverwalk Commission oversees Moser Tower, which sits along the popular path, and will make a recommendation to the city council about the tower's future.

But the commission's recommendation will take some time to develop, members said Wednesday. That's because the group first needs to know how much it might cost to shore up issues with corroded steel and cracked concrete or to improve weatherproofing and drainage to help avoid future damage.

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Commission members, including Pat Kennedy, also were interested in an outlook of when expenditures will need to be made to keep the tower's concrete and steel in solid shape.

"I think the timing will be important," Kennedy said. "I think it's just as important when that (cost) might occur as what the number is."

The 214-page draft addendum produced under a $118,000 contract did not yet include such cost estimates or timelines. But Dusak said his firm is working with subconsultants and a contractor to determine potential expenses and could have the information by December.

The report detailed findings from materials testing conducted this spring, as well as from an assessment of durability and an architectural review of designs from 1999.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Part of the problem with estimating repair costs is an instrumental tower like Moser is a rare thing. Bill Novack, the city's director of transportation, engineering and development, said it's not like a parking garage, for which city engineers have solid construction and maintenance cost estimates for the life of the structure.

"We don't know (the costs) because there's not many of them out there," Novack said about bell towers.

But Naperville has one, and it's become a sign of the city for many, officials say. Now the city is realizing how much it must plan and prepare for ongoing costs of keeping the tower in place and iconic.

"The bottom line," Novack said, "is any asset takes maintenance dollars."

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