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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 087-99087-00; St. Bernard Parish
PW ID# 3757; Estopinal-Salles House
June 25, 2012
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
7667 Independence Boulevard
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806
Re: Second Appeal–St. Bernard Parish, PA ID 087-99087-00, The Estopinal-Salles House, FEMA-1603-DR-LA, Project Worksheet (PW) 3757
Dear Mr. Davis:
This letter is in response to a letter from your office dated January 5, 2011, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of St. Bernard Parish (Applicant). The Applicant requests that the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fund additional construction costs related to restoring the pre-disaster function of the Estopinal-Salles House in the amount of $141,446.
The Estopinal-Salles House (facility), part of the Los Islenos Museum Complex in St. Bernard Parish (Applicant), sustained wind and flood damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina. This 651-square-foot house was built in 1810 and was relocated to become part of a10-building outdoor museum exhibit in 1999. FEMA prepared PW 3757 for $15,005 on November 16, 2009, to fund the repair of the facility. After further inspection, additional damage was identified, and FEMA determined the replacement of the facility was eligible for funding at an estimated cost of $121,462.
Upon review of the contract documents for the facility replacement, FEMA determined that the contract included work to “authentically reconstruct a historic replication … using construction methodology that was common in the 1780s.” As the facility was not eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register), FEMA concluded that the eligible replacement costs were limited to the costs to build a similar structure based on current codes and standards and using current construction methods.
The bid cost of the facility replacement was $289,000, including $50,000 for the restoration of the bousillage insulation (mud and moss construction technique) and $76,000 for heavy hand-hewn timber construction. FEMA determined that those costs and a proportional share of the cost for General Conditions ($15,446) were ineligible because they were associated with the historic replication of the facility. FEMA ultimately approved a total of $147,555 as the eligible cost of the replacement of the facility and obligated $146,962 (eligible replacement cost and Architectural and Engineering services less actual insurance proceeds) under PW 3757.
On April 7, 2010, the Applicant submitted the first appeal, and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (Grantee) transmitted the appeal to FEMA on June 17, 2010. The Applicant stated that although the facility is not eligible for listing in the National Register, it is a historically and culturally significant part of the Los Islenos Museum Complex. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the facility functioned as an exhibit showing the residential construction practices of the Los Islenos people. Based on FEMA’s eligibility determination, the Applicant removed the bousillage installation from the actual project scope, but moved forward with the use of the heavy timber beams. The Applicant stated that the timber beams were not actually hand-hewn, but were standard beams treated with a finish applied to make them resemble hand-hewn beams. The Applicant further stated that according to FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy 9524.6, Collections and Individual Objects, dated August 17, 1999, restoring the facility to its pre-disaster function is eligible for funding. Finally, the Applicant requested that, at a minimum, FEMA approve additional funding for conventional insulation and framing system and associated foundation elements.
On September 2, 2010, the FEMA Regional Administrator partially approved the first appeal. The Regional Administrator concluded that because the facility is not eligible for inclusion in the National Register, eligible funding is limited to reasonable replacement costs. As there are no codes and standards requiring the use of historically authentic reconstruction methods, reasonable replacement costs include those associated with the use of conventional construction methods. The Regional Administrator acknowledged that FEMA did not include foundation costs in the eligible amount approved under PW 3757 and approved funding for foundation construction using conventional construction, but denied the costs for non-conventional construction methods.
The Applicant submitted the second appeal on November 2, 2010, which was forwarded to FEMA by the Grantee on January 5, 2011. The Applicant contends that FEMA did not take the facility’s pre-disaster function into account in the analysis of the first appeal. The Applicant states that the facility is a museum exhibit and that the installation of both the bousillage and the heavy timber finished to provide a hand-hewn appearance were necessary to restore the function of the facility. Further, the Applicant states that General Conditions do not relate to the material elements of a construction project. The Applicant is requesting that FEMA provide funding in the amount of $141,446 to fund the bousillage, heavy timber, and General Conditions costs found previously to be ineligible. The Grantee supports the Applicant’s appeal, but suggests that FEMA should reimburse the actual cost of the conventional insulation installation ($7,784.29) rather than the estimate for bousillage installation ($50,000), because the Applicant chose not to restore the bousillage.
The Estopinal-Salles House is part of the 10-building Los Islenos Museum Complex, and as such, is considered part of a collection of museum objects. FEMA Disaster Assistance Policy DAP9524.6, Collections and Individual Objects, dated August 17, 1999, states that FEMA determines the eligible scope of work and eligible funding that will be provided for the treatment of collections and individual objects. The policy gives FEMA the flexibility to approve additional treatment beyond stabilization of a collection or individual object if it is necessary to maintain the integrity of the items and return them to their pre-disaster function. In this case, the facility’s pre-disaster function was as an exhibit representative of residential construction practices depicting the culture of the Los Islenos colonists in the 1780s. The use of the heavy timber with a finish resembling hand-hewn timber was necessary to return the facility to its pre-disaster function; therefore, the costs associated with the installation of the heavy timber ($76,000) is eligible. Further, the material selection would have no impact on the cost of General Conditions, and the $15,446 deducted from the eligible replacement cost is also eligible. The bousillage installation is not eligible because prior to the disaster the insulation was covered by interior walls and not visible. Further, the Applicant changed the project scope to include conventional insulation. The actual cost of the installation of the conventional insulation is eligible ($7,784).
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Applicant’s appeal should be partially granted. The costs associated with the installation of the heavy timber with a finish resembling hand-hewn timber and the General Conditions are eligible. The cost estimate for the installation of the bousillage insulation is not eligible for funding; however, the actual cost of the installation of the conventional insulation is eligible. The total additional eligible cost is $99,230. By this letter, I am requesting the Acting Regional Administrator to take appropriate action to implement my decision.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
Deputy Associate Administrator
Office of Response and Recovery
cc: Tony Robinson
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region VI