Commission Makes Recommendation on Riverfront Barge

After a recent inspection, The Barge Commission has made the recommendation to the City of Keokuk of scraping or selling the facility due to damage.

An inspection of the barge in 2013 prior to its purchase and move to the city did not show damage to the hull or surrounding area. The barge was transported to southeast Iowa last year from Davenport after the city bought it for $1. The damage that the new inspection is reporting was sustained in the time between the two reports.

It is believed that the scrap value will offset any dollars spent on the project.

City Administrator Cole O’Donnell released the following report and recommendation to the city:

“Yesterday the barge inspector completed his survey.  He presented a very preliminary report to a few members of the Barge Commission, Mayor Richardson, and me.  The report pointed out many severe deficiencies with the barge.  The hull, sides and bottom, is pitted in many places and is degrading rapidly.  There are several holes and water does come in.  Recommended fix is sand blasting, coating and painting.  The inspector’s very rough estimate based on industry standards is $10,000,000 excluding transport to and from dry dock.  Additionally, while inspecting the compartments, the inspector found that the wastewater holding tanks had burst and that compartment is full of hydrogen chloride gas.  That system would need to be completely rebuilt.  No inspection of the top surface of the barge could be completed as the concrete base for the building sits covers the top.  The inspector indicated that this will be a problem either now or in the future as concrete is corrosive to steel.

The Barge Commission did not have a quorum so as to be able to take any action.  The members present agreed that staff should begin plans to auction furniture, fixtures, and equipment, as well as, offer the facility for scrap.  The inspector forwarded contacts for several marine salvage companies.  He also indicated that the barge would need to be moved in order to be scrapped.

Moving forward, staff will look at options for auctioning off what we can and present the plan to the Barge Commission for recommendations to the Council.  At the same time, staff will prepare to have the facility scrapped.  As part of the process, we will contact the DNR about being able to disassemble the building on site. 

If it is necessary for the City to pay for the facility’s removal, we can use the proceeds of the upcoming bond sale.  TIF revenues would be used to pay the bonds and not directly impact tax payers.  While not ideal, it could keep the cost from being paid from General Fund revenues.  Should the scrapping not require funds of the City, bond proceeds could be directed to the river front trail.”

This recommendation has not yet been able to be presented to the City Council, Radio Keokuk will keep you updated as more information is released.