Rec center wing contract approved

September 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A $725,000 contract to build the first of three wings planned for the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center was awarded Tuesday to a Martinsburg company, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board executive director Steve Catlett said.

"As soon as we get the contract signed ... hopefully this fall (construction will begin), that's our hope," Catlett said.

The 12,600-square-foot addition to be constructed by W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. is by far the largest of the three wings, Catlett said. It will provide space for the board's gymnastics program and include support facilities for the second wing as well as the first.

Catlett said he will be negotiating with the company to build the second wing, too, Catlett said.

"If that doesn't work, we'll have to rebid two and three," Catlett said. "We're still going to end up with two wings."

The decision to award a contract for only one wing was forced upon the board by the wording used in the contract advertisement, Catlett said.


Last week, Martinsburg City Council voted to advance Catlett $250,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue with the prospect of having at least two wings built because contractors' bids for all three were substantially less than expected.

"I never dreamed the bids would be like this," Catlett told Mayor George Karos and five council members convened as the Budget and Finance Committee before they approved the allocation Thursday.

The low bid for all three wings ($1,607,000) was submitted by Minghini's General Contractors, also of Martinsburg, Catlett had told city leaders. The projected cost of adding three wings to the recreation center was $2 million.

"We either had to sign a contract with (W. Harley Miller) on phase one or rebid the whole thing," said Catlett, acknowledging Tuesday the wording of the project advertisement proved to be "a little bit unfortunate."

But in the interest of moving the project forward, Catlett said the decision was made to award the contract for the first phase. W. Harley Miller was the general contractor for the center when it was built in Lambert Park off Woodbury Avenue in 2002.

City leaders previously advanced the Parks and Recreation Board $500,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue for the project and now expect the tax revenue collection to replenish the municipality's redevelopment fund account within at least 10 years, if not earlier, officials had calculated. The Berkeley County Commission also has allocated $500,000 for the project.

Catlett said Tuesday he still is hopeful state sources can be identified to complete the expansion, regardless of the bidding mixup.

Part of the problem in getting state money for the project has been the lack of a mechanism in place of the Budget Digest, a method state lawmakers had used to appropriate money that was abandoned earlier this year after a legal challenge.

"There's no vehicle to get the money, yet," state Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said last week.

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