Reading Eagle/Times August 15, 2000  Reading Eagle

8 New Classrooms Won't Sink Into Caverns Used by Brewery

By Kori Walter

 Pouring about 2,000 tons of concrete into a hole appears to have been an effective way to seal caverns discovered under Lauer's Park Elementary School, Reading School District architect/engineer Kip A. Fedetz said Tuesday.

Fedetz told board members at a facilities committee meeting that the $101,200 remedy has made the ground solid enough to support an eight-classroom addition to the school at 251 N. Second St.

 "It's sound, it's solid and it's not sinking," Fedetz siad of the cement-filled ground.

 Work on the new classrooms was stopped in July when crews digging footers uncovered the caverns, which were used to store beer in the early 1900s at Lauer's Brewery.

 The board agreed to dump the concrete- enough to cover a football field 9 inches deep- into the caverns so the project could be finished.

 On Tuesday, Fedetz said his firm should not shoulder any blame for failing to find the caverns before construction started.

 Soil tests conducted by a Lancaster County firm did not uncover any holes or voids, Fedetz noted.

 Such tests, which consisted of drilling three holes in the area where the addition was to be built, are designed to detect problems.

 "We did what was the prudent thing to do," Fedetz said.

 Fedetz also disputed board member Kenneth B. Mock's previous claims that he warned the firm and other board members that the caverns were potential problems.

 "Kenny (Mock) never really told us where they were," Fedetz said.