Harry S. Truman opened bids for construction work on his courthouse Thursday.

Actually, a Truman re-enactor, Niel Johnson, opened eight envelopes inside the historic courthouse, each containing a bid amount submitted by a construction company.

Harry S. Truman opened bids for construction work on his courthouse Thursday.
Actually, a Truman re-enactor, Niel Johnson, opened eight envelopes inside the historic courthouse, each containing a bid amount submitted by a construction company.
Of the eight bids, Rothwell Construction, Inc., of Blue Springs, submitted the lowest at $735,965. The next was Cass Construction, Inc. at $766,640.36; Jim Kidwell Const. Co.,of Greenwood at $772,324.27; Musselman & Hall Contractors, LLC. of Kansas City at $806,508.85; Trinity Excavating & Construction, Inc. of Kansas City, Kan., at $814,629.86; MEGA Industries Corp of Kansas City at $861,263; Kissick Construction of Kansas City at $910,958.20; and Dennis Johnson Construction of Grandview at $998,868.
The county doesn’t automatically select the lowest bid. Officials in the following weeks will review details of the bids and determine which of the eight is the best fit for the project, both from a cost and engineering perspective.
Initial cost estimates put the project at more than $2 million. But the county’s Public Works Department designed the project, and cost estimates declined as the county determined the scope of the construction work. An engineering assessment put the project at $835,205, according to Public Works Director Jerry Page.
The county inserted about $530,000 from its contingency fund to pay for the project. The county has already set aside $270,000 toward the renovation.
The major portion of the project calls for removing the retaining walls that surround the courthouse. The east end walls will remain. Other work calls for removing all the landscaping, re-grading the yard to slope away from the foundation, installation of a sidewalk system, and other infrastructure work like gutter and storm water drainage.
The retaining walls along the sidewalks were built in the early 1970s during an urban renewal project.
Over the years, the walls have captured water, which then infiltrated into the foundation and basement. The retaining walls caused water to accumulate in the ground like a bathtub, according to engineering reports the county requested last fall.
Removing the exterior walls will add about 70 parking spaces that Independence city officials say could boost the economic health of stores on the square.
Once completed, the courthouse would look like it was when Truman oversaw its expansion and redesign in 1933.
The county estimates a construction company should be selected by March, and work will start in April. The work is expected to be completed by the start of the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival in late August, Sanders said.
The project would be Phase II of a three-part renovation effort led and funded by the city of Independence and Jackson County and residents who have privately donated to the cause.
“This is a building that has important significance to our city and to our county,” County Executive Mike Sanders said. “But it really has national and international significance. Every week, we have people come from all over this world to visit this building and this area.”