Lower Pottsgrove Halts Progress on Municipal Campus

SANATOGA PA – Plans to build a new Lower Pottsgrove municipal campus at East High Street and South Pleasant View Road (at top) have ground to a halt, although the township Board of Commissioners hopes the delay is only temporary.

The construction firm chosen by commissioners to lead the estimated $7.5 million project as its general contractor did not deliver a bond to ensure its performance. As a result, they have withdrawn their conditionally awarded winning bids for it, as well as for three accompanying subcontractors.

Letters announcing the board’s decision were mailed out Monday afternoon (Aug. 9, 2021), township manager Ed Wagner confirmed. The action brings the municipal campus to a standstill, Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. acknowledged.

Commissioners say Lower Pottsgrove still needs, and should proceed, to build the campus that would house its offices and police station. Re-starting, though, may take months.

During their meeting last Monday (Aug. 2), Garner notified commissioners the company they selected July 12 as the project’s general contractor, Rebcor Construction, failed to submit any proof of bonding by a township deadline for its portion of the project. He called the matter one of “significant concern.”

Garner declared the company “in default” on its $5.2 million bond obligation, and advised board members to officially suspend its contract offer to, and rescind their choice of, Rebcor. They agreed, and effectively canceled the bid award in a 5-0 vote.

Requiring contractors to be bonded is one way government entities ensure work they pay for is satisfactorily completed. If winning bidders fail to fulfill contractual requirements, governments can seek financial compensation from the bond issuer, somewhat like filing a claim with an insurer. The cost of acquiring a bond usually is paid by the contractor.

Without time to conduct more research, board members declined to immediately choose a different general contractor, which would also oversee the work of three other selected subcontractors.

Each subcontractor had provided proof of bonding and insurance certificates, but Garner suggested the board suspend-and-rescind those choices too. The township could incur liabilities to make good on those contracts if they were not pulled back, the solicitor indicated. Commissioners again took the advice, 5-0, and eliminated the offers.

Affected were HVAC and mechanical contractor bid winner, Spotts Brothers; electrical contractor bid winner, A.N. Lynch; and plumbing contractor bid winner, LGB Mechanical.

Board members said they preferred to err on the side of caution.

“I’d rather hit stumbling blocks now” than later, board President Bruce Foltz noted. “It’s not the time to be risking taxpayer money,” Commissioner Robert Mohollen added; “let’s take a step back.” Commissioner Michael McGroarty, who has consistently opposed the project primarily because of its cost, said he was “not comfortable with what’s going on. Let’s tap the brakes a little bit.”

If the board decides to do so, re-starting the process may take 60 days or more, Garner reported. It must again advertise for bids, hold a bidders’ informational meeting, obtain bids, select winning bidders, and hope all bidders can provide bonds and insurance – and meet any other requirements – in a timely fashion to get back on track.

Photo by The Post of a 2020 drawing displayed by Lower Pottsgrove Township