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Building renovation bids rejected

May 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

The Franklin County Commissioners this week rejected bids that were above estimates for renovation of a 19th-century building, but will expand the project in hopes of attracting more bidders in the next round.

"Pretty much all of the contract bids except the elevator contract were above estimates," Lee Zeger of Dennis E. Black Engineering Inc. of Chambersburg told the commissioners Tuesday. The project to remodel the building and install an elevator to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act had been estimated at about $500,000 by the consulting engineers, but the lowest bids on each of the four contracts came to more than $843,000.

One problem with the bidding, Zeger said, was that the requests for proposals went out at the peak of the construction season and few contractors were interested at the time.

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The county asked for bids on Building 2 on Franklin Farm Lane, a three-story stone structure built in 1814 that had once been the county poor house and later the county nursing home. The building now houses fiscal, purchasing and computer services offices for the county, but will be converted for use as an agricultural services center.

The county has about $400,000 in donations and another $600,000 from a state grant for the project, which likely will include the demolition of another building west of Building 2 for construction of an addition to the agricultural services center.

By enlarging the project to include another building, the county may attract more contractors interested in bidding on a larger project, County Administrator John Hart said.

"We're going to add in Building 1's renovation, which will make it a bigger project," Hart said Tuesday.

Located just north of Building 2, Building 1 is used for storage, but has historical significance. Part of the building was the birthplace of Patrick Gass, who was a sergeant with Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Corps of Discovery that explored the Louisiana Purchase in the early 1800s.

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