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State asks Martinsburg to pay more for town square project

June 26, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | m

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The total cost for Martinsburg’s newly redesigned town square is about $1.8 million, and the West Virginia Division of Highways has asked the city to pay the agency an additional $37,130 for the project.

In a special meeting Thursday, the Martinsburg City Council is expected to vote on a supplemental agreement with the state that reflects the additional cost the city has been asked  to absorb.

The council meeting begins at 5 p.m. in City Hall at 232 N. Queen St.

If the agreement is approved, the city’s share of the project cost would increase to $360,850, according to a proposed supplemental agreement that the city received June 19 from the Division of Highways. State and federal grant funding would cover the remainder of the project’s $1,804,249 cost, under the agreement.

Triton Construction Inc., which was the low bidder among three contractors, submitted a $1,360,180 bid in April 2011 for the project, according to DOH bid results.

Contingency funding was set aside for the pedestrian safety and aesthetic redesign of the square, but workers also had to replace bricks that were unsuitable for the crosswalks of the intersection. Concrete pavers also had to be relaid in a different pattern, and a new bedding material was used to improve drainage. 

Five project change orders totaling $185,647 were cited for the increase in the project’s final cost, according to an email from state highway officials to City Manager Mark Baldwin.

Changes to the project included additional paving on portions of King and Queen streets leading to the square intersection, and replacement of gravel pathways in the north lawn of the square with concrete, city officials have said.

In December, Mayor George Karos recommended that the  council table design plans to commission a sculpture of Martinsburg’s founder for the square due in part to the project change orders. A pedestal was built for the sculpture as part of Triton’s contract, but the artwork could not be funded with grant funding the city received for the project, officials have said.

In addition to change order costs, Karos cited concerns aired about spending taxpayer money on a sculpture that has been estimated to cost $50,000 to $60,000. He also noted that a statute of town founder, Revolutionary War Major Gen. Adam Stephen, would have to be researched because no image of him apparently exists.

A composite of Stephen could be developed based on an existing portrait of a grandson, Keith Hammersla, curator of the General Adam Stephen Memorial Association Inc., has said.

The nonprofit association was formed to restore Stephen’s limestone home off East John Street as a memorial to the town founder.

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