Carmel’s lengthy elevator repair project unearths city history

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A major repair to one of the two elevators in Carmel’s City Hall has left it unavailable for most of the year and unearthed a bit of history in the process.

The elevator has been unavailable since late January 2018 when a defective jack assembly was discovered. As crews worked to remove the assembly, they discovered that the underground cylinder that houses the assembly 40 feet into the ground had succumbed to years of corrosion and needed to be re-dug.

“We were notified on Jan. 31 that it would take some time to draw the plans for a new assembly and then several weeks to build a new jack assembly,” City of Carmel spokesman Dan McFeely said. “It was also difficult to find a company with the expertise and equipment to re-dig that hole, but when one was found, they were not available right away. We have been working through this process and a few additional delays to get to the point where we are now.”

Some guests to City Hall noticed an unpleasant smell emanating from the elevator last week. McFeely said the stench came from water pumped into the hole to help reduce friction as crews drilled into metal and concrete.

The digging unearthed some items that appear to be old trash, such as small pieces of plastic and a rubber hose, but discarded items did not cause the odor, McFeely said, adding that the site once sat empty behind houses on Range Line Road. City Hall opened for business in 1990.

“The area had been used by some of the people in those corners to dump some of their heavy stuff,” McFeely said. “In the mid to late 1970s there wasn’t much up here in Carmel. It was very much rural, and it was empty acreage.”

The city has spent nearly $67,000 on the elevator repair and associated drilling. McFeely said the extended length of the project has not led to an increased cost.

“We held the line on the cost and we forced them to find the part we needed to find,” he said. “We did that instead of going somewhere else that would’ve added to the cost.”

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