After years of planning, and resolving kinks with property lines and internet installation, the new Cody School District bus barn has been completed at last – but the district can’t use it yet.
Maintenance director Terry Gardenhire gave confirmation to the school board Tuesday night that final pieces of opening the building for business, getting internet access and a functional fire system, have fallen into place and the construction is wholly complete. Gardenhire said fire marshal Sam Wilde gave his blessing, and the final hurdle to clear before starting the move-in process was getting the seal of approval from the city building inspector.
It was not forthcoming.
“There were some things identified that aren’t per the drawings we submitted to Planning & Zoning,” Gardenhire said.
Planning & Zoning meets Tuesday to discuss the changes made and if occupancy can be approved anyway.
The more than $3.5 million complex built to house the district’s bus fleet could stand empty until three changes, two of them purely cosmetic, are made.
An inability to create a watertight seal on some decorative siding on the building forced a change in the design to a different siding that can be sealed. That was something that Gardenhire said in the meeting had been discussed with city planner Todd Stowell previously, and said there was an understanding that siding may need to be changed anyway for cost reasons.
The second cosmetic “defect” was a dearth of planters on the north side of the building, which is not clearly visible from the road. The location of the bus barn is also not in an especially well-traveled area, and its nearest neighbors are the end of the runway at Yellowstone Regional Airport and the Ag Barn, which is owned by the district. Both facilities are to the south of the missing planters.
The final sticking point in the inspection Gardenhire mentioned was that of the asphalt driveway, which is five feet shorter than was in the plan. He did not know why the driveway was not completed to specifications. More asphalt cannot be added until the spring. If and when it is, it will not cost the district more money as it was already budgeted for.
“The items that the city inspector identified that Groathouse [Construction] needed to work on are complete,” Gardenhire told the board. “We’ve done all we can with regard to construction. It’s a matter of working through the inspector’s concerns around the design of the building.”
Frustration was evident in the room as Gardenhire concluded his report.
“It seems kind of silly to me that a physical building inspector would be concerned about [the] finish of exterior siding,” said trustee Cathy Roes. “Is this really something that’s in the purview of the City of Cody building inspector? Or is this something that is coming from Planning & Zoning?
“I don’t understand why we wouldn’t be able to have occupancy because the siding on a small portion of a building was changed out because it wasn’t effective.”
Stowell, for his part, said the city was waiting to give approval for occupancy until P&Z meets next Tuesday and discusses the changes that were made.
“It’s not 100% of what was approved, so we need to see if these are things we can live with,” Stowell said.
The completion of the building will allow the district to pursue in earnest the sale of the old bus barn, the exact mechanisms of which have been discussed and debated at length over the last few months but are yet to be finalized. Multiple interested parties for the property have made inquiries into the property.
(Zac Taylor contributed to this report)