Hancock rejects project bids

NEW CUMBERLAND – It’s literally back to the drawing board for Hancock County commissioners now that they have rejected all the bids for the construction of the new county 911 Dispatch Center and health department building.

Commissioners rejected the bids at their regular meeting Thursday after learning all six bids for the two-building complex on state Route 2 came in at well over the project estimate of $5 million. That estimate included the cost of construction and the new technology necessary to support the 911 center.

“It’s almost cost-prohibitive to build new,” Commissioner Mike Swartzmiller said. “We’re going to have to sit down and look at this and decide what we want to do.”

The lowest bid was $4.8 million, not including the $2 million add-on for the technology package, said Thomas Zielinsky, executive director of the county’s Office of Technology and Communications. The highest bid was a little more than $5 million, he said.

Zielinsky expressed disappointment at the turn of events for a project that has consumed countless hours of his time over the past year.

“I was very much surprised that the lowest bid was at the total price of the project (including technology equipment),” he said, noting that accepting one of the bids would have put the project cost at more like $7 million. “We’re going to have to go back and … see what we can salvage out of this.”

Zielinsky advised commissioners to reject the bids after consulting with project architect L.R. Kimball of Ebensburg, Pa., and determining that “significant cost reductions cannot be made.”

The project calls for the construction of two buildings on county-owned property at state Route 2 and Rockyside Road – one for the Hancock County Health Department and one for the 911 center/Office of Emergency Management. All three agencies currently occupy quarters in the Hancock County Courthouse and a neighboring building.

Among the factors driving up the cost of the project are building requirements imposed by the West Virginia Office of the State Fire Marshal and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Zielinsky said. The latter has jurisdiction because Hancock County lies within the 10-mile emergency planning zone for FirstEnergy’s Beaver Valley Power Plant, a nuclear facility in nearby Shippingport, Pa.

In other business Thursday, commissioners accepted a bid from Juszczak Development to disassemble and haul away all the equipment from Newell Memorial Field. Juszczak bid $7,323 on bid package five, which included all four of the individual bid packages.

The contract includes the visitors’ side bleachers, the home bleachers, the press box and all other equipment (fencing, scoreboard and lights).

The contract does not include demolition of the restrooms, the concession stands or the World War I and II memorial.

The latter, including the bronze plaque, will be moved and reused by American Legion Post 114.

Commissioners bought the Newell property – and the old Jimmy Carey Stadium in Weirton – from Hancock County Schools in December for $400,000. They want to clear the 4.25-acre site on state Route 2 by the end of the month so that it can be used for economic development purposes.