Although restoration work on the historic Riverside water tower is beginning to wind down, costs related to the project continue to rise. On Sept. 19, the Riverside village board authorized nearly $100,000 more for the effort, principally to cover replacing the slate roof of the west well house, one of two smaller cylindrical structures that flank the tower in Centennial Park.

The additional expense means that the tower and well house renovations, originally expected to cost $1.24 million, will end up costing $1.37 million, some $132,000 over budget.

According to Public Works Director Michael Hullihan, the original restoration contract called for the slate roof on the west well house to be patched as needed. However, when repairs began, workers found that the old steel nails holding the tiles to the roof were rusting, causing slate tiles to fall off. In addition, the old tiles were brittle and broke easily.

“Our original hope was to repair the well house roof,” said Hullihan. “But for every tile we put up, two would disintegrate.”

The total cost to replace the roof was estimated at nearly $105,000, through Hullihan was able to knock $6,000 of the price tag by saving the original metal finial that caps the conical roof.

Because of the change in plan, repairs on the west well house roof are not expected to be complete until the end of November. It’s hoped that the restoration of the water tower itself will be complete by mid-October.

In addition to repairing the roof of the west well house, the interior of the structure will be renovated to give the Riverside Historical Museum, which is headquartered in the east well house, additional exhibit space.

That renovation, which will include a new air-conditioning/heating system, floor, walls and some display equipment, is expected to cost an estimated $75,000. The village will fund the renovation through a grant from the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. State Rep. Calvin Giles (D-8th) was instrumental in helping Riverside obtaining the grant, according to Village Manager Kathleen Rush.

The board also voted unanimously to shift $17,000 left over from recent repairs to a wall and concrete stairs in Swan Pond Park to the water tower restoration project. The Recreation Department had estimated repairs to the wall and steps would cost $35,000, but just $17,700 was spent on that project.

The $17,000 will be used to purchase an additional air-conditioning/heating system and be used to address any lead or asbestos abatement issues inside the water tower’s pump house, which will be renovated to include Recreation Department offices, program space and bathrooms.

Work on the water tower restoration began in March 2005. By June nearly all of the $80,000 contingency built into the original cost estimate for the restoration was used up as unanticipated repairs?”like $58,000 for mortar joint repairs and $10,000 to remove soot stains from the lower portion of the tower?”bubbled to the surface.

By July, the project was officially over budget, when Hullihan learned that the mineral stain counted on to coat a portion of the bricks on the tower proved unstable. That problem was eventually solved, but by Aug. 10 the project was $16,000 over budget.