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County awards Smithsburg Library bid

June 22, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday awarded Excel Construction Co. of Hagerstown a $1.2 million contract to build a new library in Smithsburg.

"I'm so excited, I can hardly think," Judith Ferro, the president of Smithsburg Library's board of directors, said when told by The Herald-Mail after the commissioners' meeting.

The contract award comes six years after the library started looking for land and three years after it started raising money, she said.

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The plan is to build a single-story, 8,742-square-foot Washington County Free Library branch in Smithsburg's Veterans Park. Many consider the current 1,096-square-foot branch on East Water Street to be cramped and outdated.

Excel's bid was the lowest of eight that were submitted, Terry McGee, the county's chief engineer, told the commissioners.

The work is scheduled to begin July 25 and finish May 2, 2006, said Gary Pozzouli, a project manager with the county's Engineering Department.

As soon as the commissioners approved the bid, Washington County Free Library Director Mary Baykan, sitting beside McGee and Pozzouli, cried out, "Yes! Yes!"

"I'm moved beyond tears," Baykan said during an interview after the meeting. "It's just so hard-won and so needed."

Fundraising is paying part of the cost. McGee said the projection was that the library would raise $690,000, but the latest tally was $857,000.

All told, community fundraising, including a federal grant, has brought in about $1,155,00, according to Baykan.

The county is contributing $213,000 from its general fund and $254,000 in excise tax money, for a total project budget of $1,622,000.

Baykan said she finally could exhale when the bids, which were opened Tuesday morning, were within the budgeted amount.

"It has to be the patron saint of libraries," she said.

Excel's total bid was one of four less than $1.3 million. The others came from Roy C. Kline Contractors of Smithsburg ($1,241,772), Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown ($1,293,100) and Callas Contractors of Hagerstown ($1,299,000).

The highest bid ($1,675,000) came from McAlister-Schwartz Co. of Woodbine, Va.

McGee said the bids were "nested" well, or bunched together, which indicates a competitive market. It was good to get eight bids, especially at this time of year, when contractors usually are booked, he said.

Excel's base bid for the project was $1,143,000.

The county's Engineering Department recommended two extra components, both of which the commissioners approved as part of the overall contract.

McGee said one piece is a metal roof instead of shingles, for $43,000, and the other is lighting for the access road, for $32,000.

Design work, inspection, equipment, furniture and a 10-percent construction contingency fund make up the balance of the $1,620,000 project cost.

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