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Fire company work begins

Published December 15. 2009 05:00PM

Jackhammers are breaking up the allegedly defective areas of floor of Summit Hill's new fire station.

The removal of the floor is part of an agreement Summit Hill Borough Council made with the general contractor of the construction project, Miller Brothers of Schuylkill Haven.

"Miller Brothers has agreed to replace all the concrete that wasn't replaced previously," said borough council President Joe Weber.

The replacement of the concrete provides optimism that the fire company might soon be able to occupy the structure.

After the new floor is constructed, it will be tested. If all goes according to plan, occupancy of the fire company could potentially happen in about a month to six weeks.

Weber said Miller Brothers will also replace some of the macadam surrounding the exterior of the building, but not until spring. The blacktop problems won't delay fire company occupancy.

The fire company was scheduled to be completed a year ago, but various problems were detected after the single-story structure was built. Among them were cracks in the floor and a defective air conditioning system.

The air conditioning woes have yet to be remedied. The AC was installed by Hoch Mechanical of Allentown. The borough has stated that litigation is being considered to get this problem rectified.

The fire company was part of a major construction project which consisted of razing the old fire station and borough hall (the former St. Joseph School) and erecting a new borough hall and fire station.

Although the borough hall has been occupied since August 2008, there are still air-conditioning problems in the building.

The council agreed to hire Lyons Inc., to review the design of the air conditioning system of the fire station and determine any deficiencies. This study is not to cost more than $7,057.

William Chapman, who will become a council member in January, asked if the air conditioning system is under warranty and if Hoch Mechanical will be held responsible for costs to make it operable. Weber said the Hoch firm is bonded and "we will pursue some of the costs." He added that because of potential litigation, he can't make additional comments.

Borough resident Tom Tkach asked why a "clerk of the works" was never hired for this project.

Weber responded, "Generally, the cost of this project; it was deemed a clerk of the works would not be cost effective." He said a clerk would not have prevented the cracking problems that occurred in the fire company floor. The cracks were caused by the curing of the concrete.

It was noted the borough still owes $118,049.54 to Miller Brothers for the construction project. Because of the work Miller is doing on the concrete and asphalt, the council agreed to pay Miller Brothers $58,049.54. The borough will retain $60,000 until all items on a "punch list" are addressed. Of the money being paid to Miller, $30,000 will be held until 10 days after the newly-poured concrete is tested.

The motion to pay Miller Brothers additional money passed by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Michael Alabovitz opposed.

On a related note, a bridge loan totaling $650,000 with Harleysville National Bank is scheduled to mature on Dec. 18. The council agreed to extend the loan until March 18, 2010, noting it couldn't make payment because it hasn't yet received a state grant that is promised for the project.

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