Campus Project Still in Review, Months After Halt

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Members of the township Infrastructure Committee are on a schedule to meet every two weeks, as they review plans for Lower Pottsgrove’s municipal campus in the hope of finding “any places we can to save money,” Commissioner Ray Lopez reports.

It’s been more than two months since Lopez and his colleagues on the township Board of Commissioners unanimously voted Aug. 2 (2021) to withdraw all contracts for the $7.51 campus construction project (at top), which were initially awarded during July to prospective general contractor, Rebcor Construction, and three accompanying subcontractors.

Rebcor’s alleged failure to submit any proof of bonding for its portion of the project prompted township Solicitor Charles Garner Jr. to urge the board to completely halt construction planning and re-evaluate its contractor choices. The lack of bonding, a form of insurance for the township, was of such “significant concern” to Garner that commissioners stopped the process in its tracks.

Since then, Lopez reported at this month’s first board meeting, “we’ve worked hard to get back up and running.” The small committee and township architect Alloy 5 of Bethlehem PA are consulting regularly to find ways to cut costs, although the nation’s current supply chain crisis is affecting their efforts, he acknowledged.

There’s no fixed date yet to re-launch the construction of new township administrative offices and greatly expanded police department quarters at the east corner of East High Street and South Pleasant View Road. As part of the discussion to rescind bids, Garner in August suggested it would take a minimum of three months. Lopez hinted during the Oct. 4 (Monday) meeting it might be longer.

Building material prices remain in a state of flux, he acknowledged; sometimes up, sometimes down, usually dependent upon demand and availability. Retailing giant Amazon isn’t helping things, Lopez added. The asking price for steel trusses essential to the building trade and, by extension, to the township campus has skyrocketed because Amazon is buying trusses in bulk for warehouse construction.

So, Lopez added, committee members are engaged in a kind of comparative shopping exercise.

The committee has scoured each of 120 building drawings and schematics, he said. They’ve looked at substituting plastic plumbing pipe for earlier designated copper where appropriate, he said. They’ve examined changes in maintenance for an underground storm water retention system. Their construction manager is considering different staging “for a couple of projects” within the overall construction.

“We’re trying to stay on top of this,” he pledged.

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