Report on needs for Kulpmont building provides starting point
To the editor: This past Tuesday, a cost analysis to renovate the existing Kulpmont Borough municipal building was presented during the public meeting. This "opinion of probable cost" was presented by Rocky Baer, principal architect from Baer Wolf Architects.
Mr. Baer walked through the borough building, including gaining access to the roof and boiler room. His inspection consisted of a visual opinion without physically opening any walls, ceilings or floors.
After assessing specific weaknesses, he assigned a fiscal approximation of $1,814,000 to renovate only the first floor, which is a 7,000-square-foot area. That's almost twice as large as the 4,000-square-foot proposed new facility.
He listed 18 obvious shortcomings and based his final financial totals on past projects and industry pricing that would be similar to components found in plans for the new borough structure. These findings are also his company's "in- house" estimates, which are void of competitive pricing.
A "scope of work" included a comprehensive facelift of both outside and inside faults, even mentioning sidewalks, curbs, drainage and individual air conditioning units.
This report was necessary to present the major problems, in writing, that citizens have been asking for since the new building was unveiled. However, Mr. Baer's report did not address specific individual expenses such as roof replacement, boiler and proper rezoning of the heating system or exterior brick and masonry costs.
He worked out generalized prices for the total renovation and issued an "opinion of probable costs" for one floor. To include the second floor, another 7,000-square-foot area, pasted on another $700,000 price tag, bringing the total to $2,514,000, but, again, it's void of competitive bidding.
The report was handed out to citizens as we entered the meeting and very little time was given to really examine and delve into each detriment presented.
These findings can now be used as a formal "scope of work" which council could use to solicit competitive bids, including a "valued engineering clause" for the major items on the 18-point agenda. These bids, once secured, could be scrutinized and, after agreeing on the best contractor, can be sent to the state Department of Labor and Industry for approval. Also, not all 18 items listed are immediate or pressing.
The report was welcomed by the citizens in attendance; however, the extent of work did not satisfy our request. Know our intent was not to utilize all 14,000 square feet of the present building. We were hoping that much of that area could be isolated and used for storage or simply assigned as a dead zone. That would leave the living space ample room for our three borough employees to carry out their daily work in comfort and provide satisfactory space for meetings.
After completely exhausting major competitive bidding to redesign the present building, and it still seems financially too expensive, then and then only should council focus on the proper site and functionality of a new structure.
The chosen site carries with it a heavy cost in the guise of a collection pond. This additional expense adds hundreds of thousands of dollars to the final cost. With that in mind, other sites should be explored to eliminate this price-booster.
Walking through the community, one can identify 10 possibilities that hold potential for a usable site. Since some of these sites are existing structures, a pond system may not be needed.
I will only list at this time the two most obvious locations that could house a municipal facility. First is the property across from St. Pauline Center on Chestnut Street. Second is the area on Poplar Street that once was the Italian Club. These two areas provide more than enough room and would also utilize a building, making it functional.
Once again, we citizens ask for a stop action until these sites can be investigated and competitive bidding can be applied to the "scope of work" that was presented on Tuesday.