Board agrees to $4.3 million price tag for new police facility
● By Richard Gaw
After more than two years of presentations, architectural renderings, preliminary approvals and wrangling over where to find the money to pay for it, the $4,347,318 it will cost to build the new home for the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department was agreed to by the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors at their July 16 meeting, by a vote of 5-0.
During a presentation by Sean Goodrick of Tevebaugh Architecture, the board approved the costs for all four components of the facility's construction. Goodrick said that the bids were opened on June 19 at the township building and read aloud to the public, in accordance with bidding instructions, and the contractors were chosen on the basis of their submitting the “lowest responsible” bids.
The general construction of the facility was awarded to Uhrig Construction, Inc., for the amount of $3.1 million; the mechanical construction will be performed by Clipper Pipe and Service for $337,000; the plumbing installation will be managed by Vision Mechanical, Inc., for $409,165; and the electrical construction was awarded to Cooks Service Company at a price of $488,810.
Goodrick told the supervisors that the project received a large amount of bids, “more so than I have seen on many recent projects,” he said. “In addition, the bids were extremely close, meaning that everyone was in theory looking at the same thing on the drawings. There was not a lot of assumed misinterpretation of the data on the drawings. It is our understanding, based on that, that these are, essentially, the best prices you can get for that project on those drawings.”
Goodrick told the board that the price tag will also include an additional $300,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, and that the project could see a 3 to 5 percent increase in the overall cost due to “change orders,” the unforeseen conditions and expenditures that often arise during construction.
“I've never seen a perfect set of documents,” he said. “It's a fact of construction that we aren't putting together a kit that's been built 50 times before. This is a unique building for a unique problem. Undoubtedly, there are imperfections in that process.”
Natalie Malawey-Ednie, a senior project manager with Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, has been hired by the township to oversee construction.
“Your biggest exposure with any building out of the ground is the ground itself,” she told the board. “There's a lot of surveys, due diligence, geotech reports – all of those things that get done – but [when] you dig in the ground, you may find underground streams and large amounts of rock that have to be removed because they conflict with your foundation. That's your biggest risk here.”
Contracts will be sent soon to each of the four winning bidders, which puts the start of construction in late September. Goodrick said that the project could take between 12 and 16 months to complete.
Until recently, the township was anticipating paying for the construction of the new police facility by taking a chunk out of the $29.5 million sale of its sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater, Inc., which the board agreed to in 2016. Since then, the finalization of the sale has seen numerous delays, most recently in early June, when the township, its sewer authority and Aqua mutually agreed to extend the date of the sale of the township's sewer system from 365 days to 760 days.
The reason for the delay in the sale are the need to interpret the provisions of Pa. Act 12, signed into law in 2016, which establishes guidelines in the evaluation of acquired water and wastewater systems in the state, and establishes fair market values for the sale of these utilities.
Following the original agreement of sale with the township nearly two years ago, Aqua filed an application with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to gain PUC approval for the amount of the sale. Subsequently, the Office of Consumer Advocate – an independent agency that reviews applications of this kind – filed protests against the application and and it was forwarded to an administrative judge, which then led to hearings on the application for sale.
The administrative law judge then rendered a decision and the PUC approved Aqua's application and the final cost of the sewer sale. Soon after, the Office of the Consumer Advocate appealed the PUC's approval in Commonwealth Court, where an oral argument date to hear the appeal is scheduled for Sept. 12.
Township manager Tony Scheivert told the board that the township has three options: It could tap into its general fund, which currently has $4.1 million in it; use some of the proceeds from the sewer sale when it is completed; or take out a loan, and pay it back in full when the sewer sale is completed. Scheivert said that he has received two quotes for financing.
In other township business, the board agreed to adopt Resolution No. 798, introduced by township solicitor Vince Pompo, that moves the township closer to the final purchase of the St. Anthony in the Hills property for a cost of $1.5 million. The agreement added an additional 90 days to account for a due diligence period, more environmental testing, and to conduct a survey on the property that Pompo said is necessary.
The final agreement of sale is waiting for the signatures of the current owners of St. Anthony in the Hills, who are five trustees. Pompo said that the seller will have a 14-day period to obtain the five signatures. The property will be paid for out of the township's open space fund and its general fund.
Replacement bridge planned for Baltimore Pike
Cathy Farrell, a highway department manager for the Philadelphia office of HNTB, an infrastructure solutions firm, represented PennDOT in introducing plans to replace a structurally deficient bridge near the intersection of Baltimore Pike and Bancroft Road.
The bridge, built in 1928, has been a focus of PennDOT for the past year. A new bridge is planned. It's one of seven bridges throughout Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties that is on PennDOT's radar to be replaced or refurbished. The plans for a new bridge have been developed, and will be fully paid for by state funding. Construction is slated for 2019 or 2020, during a three-month period beginning in June and ending in September.
Farrell said that each lane of the bridge will be widened from 12 feet to 14 feet, and it will have guardrails that meet PennDOT's safety standards and proper right-of-way lines. The results of a hydraulic study of the current bridge will lead to the installation of concrete pad walls that will funnel excess water coming from nearby pipes.
During the first stage of construction, Farrell said, drivers will be directed to use the northbound side of the bridge, and during its second stage, traffic will cross the newly constructed portion of the bridge. Temporary light signals along Baltimore Pike during construction will be coordinated to help lessen congestion.
Some supervisors expressed concern that the current bridge does not offer proper turning room at the Baltimore Pike-Bancroft Road intersection, the bottleneck which will be magnified during the construction period. At the end of the presentation, the supervisors agreed to send a letter to PennDOT officials that details the extent of their concerns.
Dr. Eric W. Stein, the chief executive officer of the Barisol Consulting Group and an associate professor of business at Penn State Great Valley, told the board about the findings of a recent report that supports making southern Chester County the home of a worldwide center of excellence for indoor agriculture, a method of growing crops and plants entirely indoors through the use of hydroponics and artificial light.
Stein discussed world trends in indoor agriculture industry, the feasibility of creating indoor farms, their economic impact, and the steps needed to create a center here. Stein delivered a similar presentation to the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors on June 6.
The board also approved a resolution to permit PennDOT to install railroad crossing upgrades at Chambers Road, at no cost to the township.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.