Dover City Council took the next big step toward the construction of a new public library with the approval this week of a $16.5 million contract package that covers the bulk of the work on the new building.


Dover City Council took the next big step toward the construction of a new public library with the approval this week of a $16.5 million contract package that covers the bulk of the work on the new building.

Council voted at its Feb. 28 meeting to approve an agreement with EDiS Company, the Wilmington-based construction management firm that is handling the project and all the various subcontractors who bid on facets of the work.

The $16.5 million contract constitutes the majority of the project’s $20.6 million estimated price tag.

EDiS will manage 20 separate contractors during the major construction phase of the new building, which will be located on what is now a parking lot between City Hall and the Dover Post Office.

At its peak, the project will employ about 85 people, said Jerry Doherty, EDiS vice president.

Doherty also told council that some 115 contractors bid for work on the project — an expectedly good turnout considering the scarcity of major construction jobs in the current economy.

Of the contracts awarded, four went to businesses owned by women or minorities that receive special consideration under city procurement rules, which EDiS followed.

Also built into the cost of the project is a significant contingency fund to cover unexpected cost overruns, but Doherty and City Manager Tony DePrima said, when the project is done, they hope to be talking about money saved rather than money overspent.

If the project does come in under budget, the city would reap the benefits, according to its contract with EDiS.

“If there’s contingency left in the project, it’s often split between the owner and the builder. We agreed early on not to do that,” Doherty said. “EDiS has a set, fixed fee. All the savings go to the city.”

 

Teen loft OK’d

Council also decided to include in the EDiS contract additional money to pay for the outfitting of a “teen loft” in the new library — work that had been removed from the scope of work in the planning stages to cut down on costs.

The space is designed to provide study and activity space for middle and high school students to gather.

 When the latest estimates to complete the loft turned out to be 44% less than was originally thought, the library’s steering committee made a renewed push to have the work included in the plans.

DePrima endorsed the addition of $169,000 to the EDiS contract for the teen loft.

“The steering committee is asking that we commit to that and we commit to raising the additional funds,” he said.

Members of council were enthusiastic about the teen loft and its potential to serve as a safe diversion for youth in the community.

Council President Ken Hogan, who is not seeking re-election in April, made a particularly overt gesture of support.

“I think the teen loft is a good thing. I pledge to donate $1,000 to the teen loft on May 9, my last night on council,” he said.

Hogan also encouraged others to pool their donations with his and hand over a generous lump sum to the library.

Pledges like Hogan’s certainly will help, but the library still needs to raise approximately $1.5 million in donations to avoid taking out a loan to pay off a portion of the construction.

Reservations about whether that money and the necessary proceeds from the sale of the existing library will come through prompted council members Beverly Williams and Bill McGlumphy to vote against the EDiS contact.

In discussions about library funding, the two have often expressed reservations about the potential impact of the project on city finances should fundraising fall short and taxpayers be forced to shoulder debt for the balance.

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com