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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Commissioners retain architect for Berlin library

(Aug. 20, 2015) Though the completed facility isn’t expected until November 2017, and construction isn’t set to begin for another year, the proposed new Worcester County library branch in Berlin now has an architect.
The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to retain architect Jeff Schoellkopf for the next phase of development, which entails design services through the production of construction documents. Schoellkopf did similar work in Ocean City for its new branch about a decade ago.
In addition, Schoellkopf said his fee for the same services had not changed since the former project was completed in 2008. The project is expected to cost $326,000 plus expenses.
According to the Worcester County Library Foundation, $246,000 has been raised to cover these expenses already and its leadership has signaled its intention to keep raising funds for construction administration fees in 2017.
Though reluctant to do so, the commissioners waived the competitive bid process to retain Schoellkopf’s services.
Acting Director of the Worcester County Library Jennifer Ranck said she saw Schoellkopf’s retention as a cost savings, as he had already been working on the project for one year, and would be able to pick up where the previous phase of the project had left off, rather than waiting for a new person to come up to speed.
County Engineer Bill Bradshaw agreed.
“We benefit from the continuance of work,” he said.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, who works in the construction business said he is neither a huge fan nor a knife-sharpening nemesis of Schoellkopf’s, but found him to be a “hands-on architect” who could reliably be reached during the course of a job. Mitrecic said that quality is sometimes an oddity.
Though reluctant to waive the formal bidding process, Assistant County Administrator Kelly Shannahan said this request falls under “professional services,” which do not require competitive bids before awarding a contract.
“Professional services are exempt from the competitive bid requirement for these very reasons. It’s more important to get the right person rather than the lowest bidder,” Shannahan said.
“Look at the total fee,” County Attorney Sonny Bloxom said. “It’s right in line with other projects. You can be comfortable in the sole source.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to accept Ranck’s recommendation.
With this step complete, the library will, according to Ranck, proceed with numerous bids for different construction services, such as a construction manager and HVAC contractor.
According to Ranck, trustees, staff and county representatives have requested the new 11,000-square-foot facility be built to “Passivhaus” (German for passive house) standards, which are techniques developed in Germany intended to offer extreme energy efficiency.
“The general idea of a passivhaus approach is to provide an extremely well insulated and airtight envelope, and reduce the size and complexity of mechanical systems,” the progress report provided to the commissioners said. “This would reduce annual energy costs by 50-70 percent and even these may be offset by on-site photovoltaic production.”
Costs to include these features were not included in the progress report.
The new building will be located just behind the existing facility along Main Street, and will be accessed via Harrison Avenue.