POLSON — Better safe than sorry — that’s the high road S&K Gaming Chief Executive Officer Bryon Miller is taking when it comes to the integrity of the structural condition of the elevated parking lot at KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino. Miller is referring to the portion of the main entrance parking lot in front of the main lobby entrance of KwaTaqNuk. It has been closed off to parking since last February after a maintenance staff employee heard a popping noise while working under the structure. That area is also a parking lot on the ground level, and mostly used for KwaTaqNuk vehicles and maintenance equipment.
“After the employee heard the pop we became concerned about the safety of the parking lot and its ability to hold the vehicle weight load,” Miller said. Upon further inspection it was determined that some of the iron cables in the reinforced concrete stringers had been compromised by water leakage through cracks in the cement and the freeze-thaw of winter. The observations and concerns spurred Miller to contract DCI Engineering of Kalispell to inspect the parking lot, evaluate the damage and make recommendations on mitigation options. They did, and recommended demolition of the existing structure and building a new one.
S&K Gaming let bids for the demo and reconstruction project and the low bid came in at $1.2 million. Sirius Construction of Missoula won the bid and did a follow up assessment once awarded the contract. Sirius advised Miller that the job could be done for far less by — instead of demolition and rebuild — installing new iron support stringers underneath the parking slab that would extend the lifespan of the parking lot by 15 years. The construction price to do that as well as sealing the exposed portion of the entire existing park lot and putting in a better drainage system brought the price down by to $560,000.
The work on the rehabilitation of the parking lot began Monday, Feb. 17, and the completion date is May 1.
“People will notice the construction fencing in that portion of the parking lot and the construction going on there. But most of the construction will be going on underneath the parking lot [slab],” Miller said of the nearly 40 percent of the main entrance parking lot. Although it will be somewhat of an inconvenience people can still park in the remaining open portion and gain entrance through the main lobby. They can also park below on the ground level and access entrance there. “We’re still open for business and make sure the main lobby entrance remains open and assessable.”