$19.4 mil­lion con­tract awarded for court­house

Record Observer - - Front Page - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — In a 3-2 vote, the Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers awarded Mul­lan Con­tract­ing Com­pany the con­struc­tion con­tract for the new Cir­cuit Court­house on Tues­day, June 14. Com­mis­sion­ers Steve Wil­son and Robert Buckey voted against.

The county re­ceived bids May 24 from Mul­lan Con­tract­ing Com­pany of Lutherville, $19,395,694, and Whit­ing-Turner Con­tract­ing Com­pany of Sal­is­bury, $19,433,858. Both bids ex­ceeded the build­ing’s pro­jected $16.7 mil­lion cost.

The con­tract calls for the de­mo­li­tion, site con­struc­tion, util­i­ties and build­ing con­struc­tion for the 41,600-square-foot court­house to be lo­cated at 200 N. Com­merce St.

Be­fore the vote, the com­mis­sion­ers dis­cussed ways to lower the cost of the pro­ject; how­ever, to do so would mean start­ing the en­tire process over, cause a twoyear de­lay, and re­sult ques­tion­able sav­ings, ac­cord­ing to staf f.

Com­mis­sioner Jack

Wil­son asked if it was pos­si­ble to re­quest three things of both the con­trac­tors: any value en­gi­neer­ing the con­tract sees go­ing into the pro­ject, “whether it’s $100,000 or $500,000,” be sub­mit­ted; to sub­mit a best and fi­nal bid; and to sign a no change or­der con­tract, “which means un­less it is a sys­temic or aes­thetic change au­tho­rized from the county they agree that the plan’s specs as pre­sented to them for the con­struc­tion ... they will meet,” Wil­son said.

Value en­gi­neer­ing, County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd said, is when some­one gives a con­trac­tor a set of plans and asks to see how much it can en­gi­neer it to get the cost down.

In or­der to com­plete those re­quests, Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Todd Mohn said a “cleaner way to do it” would be to re­ject both the bids, go back and ask for “sub­sti­tu­tions or al­ter­nates” as al­lowed in the con­tract for cost sav­ings to the owner, which in this case is the county, re­vise the con­tract doc­u­ments and re­bid the pro­ject.

David Re­ma­niak, the county’s chief en­gi­neer, said in the early 2000s, the county re­bid the Ter­rapin Grove hous­ing pro­ject af­ter bids came in high. He said the county re­jected the bids and in­vited all the in­ter­ested par­ties to at­tend a meet­ing to of­fer cost sav­ing al­ter­na­tives. Once of­fered, the county had to pay its ar­chi­tect for the change or­der to re­design the build­ing and then it pub­licly bid the pro­ject again with the cost sav­ings added. From the time the bids were re­jected to the time a shovel en­tered the ground, Re­ma­niak said it was about nine months to a year.

Mohn said if the face of the build­ing and its looks were to change, the ap­proval re­ceived from the Centreville Plan­ning Com­mis­sion would be for­feited. He said it would have to go back through the plan­ning com­mis­sion for ap­proval to reeval­u­ate the look of the build­ing and where it sits on the grounds.

“We have the ar­chi­tec­tural bills associated with this. You have a com­mit­tee that went through all this,” Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Mark An­der­son said. “...It seems like we’re just go­ing to take all that work, tear it all up, start over again and who knows when this is go­ing to come to this point in the fu­ture. I’m go­ing to guess prob­a­bly not even in the term of this com­mis­sion.”

Re­ma­niak said it would take at least two years for a shovel to be in the ground if the com­mis­sion went back to re­quest those changes.

Jack Wil­son re­quests were not added into the mo­tion to ap­prove the con­struc­tion bid.

Plans for the court­house were al­ready re­vised to cut costs in 2014. The county orig­i­nally bud­geted $16.5 mil­lion for the pro­ject, but Beyer Blinder Belle Ar­chi­tects pre­sented a plan for a 56,286-square­foot, three-story build­ing at a cost of $22.4 mil­lion in Septem­ber 2014. The com­mis­sion­ers re­jected that de­sign and ap­pointed a task force to work with the ar­chi­tect to make changes. In De­cem­ber 2014, the ar­chi­tects came back with a new de­sign that re­duced the square footage to 40,550, cut off an en­tire floor by elim­i­nat­ing un­der­ground park­ing and trimmed the height of the build­ing. That de­sign was the one bid on.

Com­mis­sioner Steve Wil­son, who voted against award­ing the bid, said he did so be­cause of the amount of debt the county is adding with the pro­ject and the “un­known quan­tity” of fu­ture cap­i­tal projects. Wil­son said there are un­known amounts of school debt and other “de­mands on our cap­i­tal sys­tem.”

He said he did not vote against it based on its ne­ces­sity, though.

He said he has seen the county’s debt rise from $60 mil­lion to $110 mil­lion and now is edg­ing closer to $140 mil­lion worth of debt.

“With a ca­pac­ity of $150 mil­lion and with the fact ... the county has never in its his­tory ever been able to get its debt lower, it just creeps up and up, but now we’re at the top,” Wil­son said. “...I hate to be the guy that does that and I would pre­fer to give time to pay down some debt be­fore we re­ceive.”

The county com­mis­sion­ers also ap­proved in a 3-2 vote the Pub­lic Works Agree­ment with Centreville for the de­vel­op­ment of the court­house. Com­mis­sion­ers Steve Wil­son and Buckey voted against the agree­ment say­ing they felt it fa­vored the town too much.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

ARTIST’S REN­DER­ING

The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers ap­proved a $19.4 mil­lion con­tract for the con­struc­tion of a new cir­cuit court­house Tues­day, June 14. Shown is ren­der­ing of what the new court­house, to be lo­cated at 200 N. Com­merce St., will look like.

PHOTO BY MIKE DAVIS

Todd Mohn, right, di­rec­tor of pub­lic works, and David Re­ma­niak, chief of en­gi­neer­ing, re­view the two con­struc­tion bids the county re­ceived for the new cir­cuit court­house pro­ject dur­ing the County Com­mis­sion’s meet­ing June 14.

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