LAUREL – Construction of the local library will finally begin after the county failed to find a contractor to complete the work, resulting in a delay in plans to start construction last March. Michael Gannon, associate director for administrative services of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, said the county could not find a […]
LAUREL – Construction of the local library will finally begin after the county failed to find a contractor to complete the work, resulting in a delay in plans to start construction last March.
Michael Gannon, associate director for administrative services of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, said the county could not find a proper suitor to start construction until earlier this year.
According to Prince George’s County Councilwoman Mary Lehman, the county selected Nardi Construction Inc., and the project will break ground on March 27. Grimm + Parker Architects designed the project.
“It’s going to be really exciting. I’ve told my colleagues that I hope it is going to be a model for all public buildings in the future, not just libraries,” Lehman said. “It’s got great environmental features. It’s going to be a really neat, green building. There are going to be solar panels on the roof, it’s going to have an impervious surface for the parking lot, it’s going to have car charging stations. It’s just going to be a gorgeous public building and one I hope will be replicated.”
Construction trailers should be on site by the end of the month, Gannon said, but not much mobilization will be done until the existing building is demolished. Gannon said it will be 18 months before the new building is completed as originally planned.
“It was supposed to start last year. We had some real delays, but now we’re ready to go,” Gannon said. “It was just delays in terms of getting out the contract and procuring the contractor. There were delays on the building and things like that.”
The project went under the bid process twice under the county’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA) initiative put in place by the council in 2011, according to Lehman. Lehman said any contractor responding to the bid had to calculate a portion of the work on the project as being union labor and union labor is more expensive because of a higher hourly wage.
“The first time the job was bid out, (The Office of) Central Services did not include the right paperwork,” Lehman said. “It didn’t have what the PLA law said and how to respond to the contract under the PLA law.”
After Central Services recognized their mistake, Lehman said, they re-issued the bid with PLA information, but it did not correctly reflect the cost of the project under PLA law and the percentage that would be included as union labor.
Floyd Holt, the deputy director of Central Services, said the bid only went out and Nardi claimed it, but struggled to put together a union labor force to work on the project. Now, Nardi remains as the contractor but the county will not require a PLA.
“A lot of projects were coming up that were siphoning off all of the labor forces, and so the contractor (Nardi) was not able to fulfill all the trades under project labor,” Holt said. “And the labor unions weren’t able to identify all of the trades. So we decided to cancel and do it without the PLA mandate.”
Central Services is still committed to doing PLA projects, Floyd said, but when there are multiple projects in the pipeline siphoning off labor, like the MGM Casino, the new Westphalia development and other items, the demand for labor can outweigh supply.
Lehman said Central Services got an opinion from the county’s Office of Law saying they could not re-bid the project under the PLA initiative a third time because it would be inappropriate with more delay. Projects are lined up to be bid out under PLA law, according to Lehman, and this could have delayed the process more for those projects as well.
The city council did not get involved, Gannon said, because the building belongs to the county. But along with the building of the library, Gannon said, the county will also be refurbishing Laurel’s Emancipation Park, and the city is involved in that process.
Outside of the PLA agreement mandate there were other things that contributed to the long delay, Floyd said.
While new building gets constructed, city residents may check out books at a temporary library location City Hall.
“It is very busy there, and we get new materials every day,” Gannon said. “We do story-time programming, and there are computers over there for the public to use. So while it is a smaller space than the old Laurel library, we’re still maintaining services there.”
There has been no decrease in service, Gannon said, and there is virtually no difference between the temporary branch and the old Laurel branch aside from the size of the buildings.
“The only thing that isn’t available at the temporary site is a meeting room. So we don’t have a meeting room space there,” Gannon said. “So that’s really the only difference. I mean, everything else is still the same.”