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New police station may cost more

Published January 27. 2010 05:00PM

It might cost more than $70,000 more to construct the new Lehighton police station than the figures originally quoted.

Lehighton Borough Council was informed this week that the architect who designed the facility didn't include in the plans various items needed to comply with the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). A building inspector has pointed out the shortcomings, council was told.

This is resulting in some expensive change orders for the project, said borough manager John C. Wagner.

"I am aghast with these change orders that are asked," Wagner told council, noting they are requirements of the UCC and ADA.

He added, "I would like to redo the whole bloody job," but noted this would create a long delay for the project and the bids for the project have already been awarded.

The new police station is being built on the first floor of what is known as Station 2 of the Lehighton Fire Department along South Third Street. The work is expected to be completed in August.

Action on the change orders, which would increase the cost of the project from $224,067 to $295,799, was tabled by the council until the February meeting. Meanwhile, Wagner was directed by the council to call a meeting of himself, all the contractors involved on the project, the borough workforce supervisor, the Light and Power Department superintendent, and the architect to thoroughly review the plans and determine what must be done to get the project completed.

Scott Rehrig, a member of the council, said the borough has $300,000 available for the project. If the project cost rises to $295,799 with present change orders, it would leave only $4,000 remaining.

This amount probably wouldn't cover future change orders.

Last July, the council awarded bids for the project. The firms hired to do the work are F. J. Lesher of Palmerton, general contractor; S & K Construction, Tobyhanna, plumbing; and L&S Electrical Construction, HVAC and electrical.

Besides the UCC and ADA requirements, Wagner said the change orders include a new heating system, which L&S Electric is willing to install for $11,900. He said the unit would be an efficient, high-energy gas burner. If borough workers remove the old burner, the cost of the unit would be reduced.

Wagner said the project doesn't include heat on the second floor of the building.

One councilman said he feels a ventilation system isn't necessary, but this brought a rebuttal from Chief of Police Matthew Bender.

"We don't have windows (in the new building)," Bender said. "We like to have certain odors people bring into the building removed."

Bender also said a concern about the spreading of germs warrants a ventilation system.

"Maybe we should consider regionalizing," said Council President Grant Hunsicker, noting it has become more difficult for a singular municipality to afford a full-time police department.

Melissa Ebbert, a council member, urged that the work continue on the new station.

"We asked (the police) to work in cramped quarters for many years," adding that the police currently work in unsafe conditions.

She said delaying the work too long will make the project even more expensive.

Hunsicker interjected, "We only have so much money. That's the problem."

Ebbert responded, "At this point, we are stuck between a rock and a hard place."

She added, "In February, we have to make a decision."

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