Fenwick narrows field on building proposals

Fenwick Island’s Public Safety Building Committee has narrowed down their search for architectural and engineering firms to five. Town Manager Win Abbott said they received 21 total proposals, and the choice has been narrowed down in recent weeks. All of the firms are from either Sussex County or from Worcester County in Maryland.

“Our thoughts going in were we wanted a firm that could physically be here on a regular basis, and given the amount of room on the property, there wouldn’t be room for an office, so if they were local, travel would be easier,” explained Abbott.

He added that they received “incredibly well-done” proposals from as far away as Philadelphia and Annapolis but wanted the luxury of a company that could be truly hands-on. They did entertain a proposal from an upstate company, as well, but they have since backed out, leaving the number of companies being considered at five.

The companies were all contacted after the last committee meeting and have since come out to do a site survey. Interviews were held on Monday, May 17, and the companies have all been asked to provide an additional proposal with cost estimates by Tuesday, May 25, at noon. That afternoon, the committee will meet again to look at the numbers.

Abbott explained that there are two different scenarios possible. One would be to construct a building adjacent to the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company substation, for which the fire company has a 99-year lease with the town, and the other is to construct the building adjacent to the town’s existing public works building.

Concerns about the first proposal include costs and the 99-year lease with the fire company.

“Because of the lease, the fire company has certain expectations of the town, which come at a cost,” explained Abbott, saying those expectations include that it be a space that the fire company would be able to use, as well. “Furthermore, it is a 99-year lease. Everything is perfect now, but who knows what will happen 40 years from now?”

Abbott also spoke of the complicated matter of attaching the two buildings, which led to the alternate location right next to the current public works, building behind the town park.

Preliminary drawings of buildings proposed for both locations can be found on the town Web site. One is a two-story rendering for the space attached to the fire company and the other a modular construction that has a footprint very close to the space available near the Public Works building.

To find them, visit the town’s Web site at www.fenwickisland.org, click on “document center” on the left-hand side, then click on the “town manager” folder. In that folder people can find the modular drawing on the last page of “Architectural Design Service Guidelines,” and they can find the drawings that depict a possible building attached to the fire company on pages three, four and five of “Technical Drawings.”

Page one of “Technical Drawings” is a rough site survey depicting the town hall property as it is today. The concept that would have the building attached to the fire company building would be on the blank space to the right of the “fire department” box. The concept that would have it behind Public Works would have it fit into the space titled “Public Works storage.”

Also, in the “Architectural Design Service Guidelines,” people can view the architectural and engineering services selection procedures that the town is using, in their entirety.

Next week, the committee will be looking at quotes for costs estimates and for architectural and engineering services, including construction management and oversight on the project.

Once a contract is signed and the council has approved it, the town will hold budget meetings in June to put the costs in the capital budget for next fiscal year. They hope to start construction this September and complete the project in its entirety before the next summer season, in 2011.

“Anything can happen,” added Abbott, but he said the 2011 date was the goal. “It’s been a deliberative process. We taking it step by step and are doing the best we can with the citizens’ money.”