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City rejects possible flooring solution
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MONROE - If Monroe city officials wrote a letter to Santa this year, it may have asked for a resolution to the flooring woes at City Hall.

A change order for $163,000 was denied by the Monroe Common Council earlier this week after officials met in closed session and decided to call a notice of breach of contract with KPH Environmental and Zersen Flooring Inc.

KPH Contractor Dan Scharf disagreed with the assessment that workers did not perform due diligence in the project, but also expressed a desire to work with the city to resolve the problem. KPH Environmental and Construction, an asbestos abatement and construction company from Milwaukee, has never had an issue like the one Monroe is currently facing, he said.

"I'd be interested in a solution, not just treating the symptoms," Scharf said. "We would like to see this be a success for the city."

Zersen owner Ben Hedeman expressed similar thoughts. He pointed to different areas of the building with unique problems, and said he hopes never to encounter a similar problem again.

An unknown chemical problem has caused the adhesive to disappear after floor tiles have been laid down, while in other parts of the building the glue worked too well. Scharf said one office in particular had varying types of original flooring throughout the room.

Closed deliberation found the council unwilling to pay for a plastic material called VersaShield, which would be installed beneath the new flooring at City Hall as a way to alleviate problems with the renovation. Labor expenses were also included. Hedeman said VersaShield has been successful in the past, and professional contractors he has consulted told him it works well.

The city budgeted $152,000 for the original cost of the floor project. Council members said the change order amount was unacceptable given that the total was higher than the original price budgeted for renovations.

The project began in mid-August after city staff moved out of the building. The timeline was set for six weeks and workers were supposed to back at City Hall before November - now they're hoping to move back by the end of January.

Scharf offered a bit of negotiation and said the total could be lowered to $141,000, but the council did not budge.

Mayor Louis Armstrong said he preferred not to negotiate and "back into a price" but acknowledged the need for the project to come to an end.

"It seems like there needs to be a new floor to put our tiles on," Armstrong said. "It needs to happen, but the council can't agree as a whole on the cost."

Hedeman and Scharf said they would work out a new offer to bring back to council during a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday.