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Contractor: Courthouse lot passed early scrutiny

Published: Tue, June 28, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.


The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

Two major projects began in April and are expected to take six months to complete at the building.


The Vindicator ( Youngstown)

The Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 10 E. Commerce St., and its parking lot are undergoing more than $1.3 million in remedial work and improvements because of questionable construction.

By Peter H. Milliken



The contractor who poured the concrete for the parking lot at a federal courthouse here said the material and the completed parking lot passed multiple inspections a decade ago.

The U.S. General Services Administration complained recently about the concrete mix that was poured at the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 10 E. Commerce St., which opened in fall 2002.

Dan Garver, president of Ivan Law Inc. of Youngstown, spoke Monday of the concrete his company applied to the parking lot.

The quality of each of about 500 cement-mixer truckloads of concrete supplied to the construction site by T. C. Redi-Mix Inc. of Youngstown during the yearlong project was checked upon arrival on site by the Dick Corp. of Large, Pa., which was the general contractor, and by a testing lab Dick hired, Garver said.

Not one of the truckloads was rejected as unsatisfactory and sent away, Garver added.

Law’s completed parking-lot work was checked and approved by the testing lab, the GSA and the Dick Corp., Garver said. The Dick Corp. did not respond to a request to comment.

Gail Montenegro, a Chicago- based GSA public-affairs officer, said she couldn’t comment in detail on the issues Garver raised, but that, in general, “contractors are responsible for performing in accordance with the specifications of their contract.”

Garver said his company returned to the courthouse in 2004 to power-wash and reseal the building’s concrete steps and entrance plaza to protect them from the elements and from damage caused by de-icing chemicals.

GSA, which manages federally owned buildings, however, would not pay for that work to be done on the parking lot that year because GSA deemed it unnecessary, Garver added.

Pinnacle Construction and Development Group of Willoughby is now replacing the parking lot and improving storm drainage in a $486,780, six-month project that began in April.

The parking-lot deterioration is due to inconsistencies in the concrete mix when it was poured, compounded by heavy rains and severe winters and the accompanying freeze-and-thaw cycles, Montenegro said.

The inconsistencies pertained to an improper amount of water in the concrete mix, which caused some parts of the parking lot to be thicker than others, she added.

Drainage and parking-lot deterioration problems were aggravated by adverse weather in recent years and the location of the building at the bottom of a steep hill, Garver said.

Ivan Law was founded by its namesake around 1912 and operated for 30 years as a sole proprietorship before being incorporated in 1942, Garver said. Garver joined the company as an employee in 1985 and bought it in 2000.

Architect Robert Mastriana of the 4M Co. in Boardman, who had no role in the courthouse project, said Ivan Law has been a “premier concrete contractor in the Mahoning Valley for decades.” Law maintains an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The other major six-month repair project that began in April is an $823,511 facade-repair job being performed by Terrain Contracting Inc. of Steubenville.

“The brick and cast stone were not properly supported with the concrete anchors, and flashings were not installed correctly,” explained Larry Hennessey, project manager for Westlake, Reed and Leskosky, the Cleveland architectural firm designing and overseeing the repairs.

Hennessey’s description of the facade problems closely paralleled that which was provided to The Vindicator by GSA.

The original masonry flashing subcontractor was Foti Construction of Wickliffe. A Foti spokesman could not be reached to comment Monday.

Foti’s website shows a photo of the Jones building, with its 35,000 square feet of exterior brick and stone, and says Foti has won numerous awards from the International Masonry Institute, the Brick Institute of America and the Builder’s Exchange for Craftsmanship.

The courthouse is named for Youngstown native Nathaniel R. Jones, retired judge of the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The building houses U.S. Bankruptcy Court and IRS, GSA, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Protective Service offices.

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