June 24, 2008

What a difference a day makes at Festival Hall

Jim Walczak with structure of Festival Hall's new clearspan

Update, 6/25: One day of uncertainty gave way to quick work this morning, as the framework of Festival Hall's new clearspan tent structure went up. Later today, the canvas covering will be put in place. Below, yesterday's original post.

Blame the poet Robert Burns, who warned us 200 years ago, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley."

Or maybe it was just Murphy's Law -- "If anything can go wrong, it will." -- in action this morning at Festival Hall, where Civic Centre executive director Jim Walczak hoped to erect his new fabric-covered building this morning, to replace the old tent. (Our earlier story is HERE.)

Everything was in place: the new metal building frame, 66' wide by 115' long was laid out on the old ice rink. Men and equipment to erect it were ready; sparkling white canvas to cover it was alongside. And then Murphy and Burns took over.

The first holes drilled into the concrete to fasten the building's support posts produced cracks. It was clear to all that a new plan was needed.

After conferring, Walczak, Jerry Lopez, Festival Hall operations manager, and Kenny Francis, Mahaffey Tent's installation supervisor, decided to shift the location of the tent a few feet west. That simple move will shift the tent supports -- and those holes drilled into the concrete -- from an unstable concrete footing around the former ice rink and into the much more stable, six-inch thick concrete that makes up the ice rink itself. On the west side, the holes would also be moved away from the footings. Test borings worked without any cracking.

Problem solved? Not sure at this point. Al Kosterman, City Building Inspector, and Paul Beard, Department of Public Works overseer of the Civic Center, are examining the specifications of the Rawl expansion fittings -- think of the plastic expansion sleeve you drill into drywall to hold shelves and then scale it up a few hundred percent and make it out of stainless steel -- to make sure they will hold the permanent building supports safely.

One way or another, Walczak will get something installed over the ice rink today or tomorrow. He's got a wedding scheduled there on Saturday.

What now? Beard, Walczak, Francis, Kosterman and Lopez, l-r

By late afternoon, all was well. The city approved moving the tent and using the supplied bolts and expansion sleeves in the ice rink cement. Support posts were being installed, and the clear-span building itself was expected to be erected Wednesday.

Correction: We initially identified Paul Beard as Bill Miller, also of the Department of DPW.


  1. If anyone can get this done it is Jim. He rocks out hard.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Yippeeee. Now crime will stop in this city!!

  4. William Miller7/21/2008 8:26 PM

    It seems there is some confusion. DPW’s Facility Manager Bill Miller is mentioned around the area of the third picture from the top. Bill is not shown in this picture and was not onsite on the day of the tent erection.
    Bill Miller

  5. Sorry about that. The error has been corrected.

  6. Almost, well I mean the attempt was there, but there is no Paul Beard either. The “Paul” part is right, but the only beard in our department was the one I shaved off at the end of winter.