Old Memorial Hospital demolition savings could aid street, utility work

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Some bids coming in $2 million under what was projected

CUMBERLAND — In a Cumberland City Council meeting Tuesday evening that lasted less than 20 minutes, an item that wasn’t on the agenda took center stage.

That item was generated by constituent questions and ideas about how funds from potential savings on the demolition costs for the old Memorial Hospital could be spent, said Councilman David Kauffman. Kauffman said a number of constituents had asked about the question after bids for the project came in lower than expected.

City Administrator Jeff Rhodes cautioned that “the cart shouldn’t be put before the horse,” since a contract was not yet awarded and there were limitations on use of the funds built into the bond issue for $3.5 million. The $3.5 million estimate was based on the demolition of the old Washington County Hospital, Rhodes said.

“When we wrote the document, we didn't want to come up short,” Rhodes said.

Seventeen contractor bid packages to demolish the old hospital included proposals ranging from the lowest offer of $1.5 million to a high bid of $4 million. There was more than one bid in the low end of the range, said Rhodes. “It’s comforting there were two bids in the same ballpark,” Rhodes said. That left Rhodes optimistic there could indeed be substantial savings at hand. The low bid, if accepted, could mean up to $2 million the city could have available.

City staff needs to review the bids, recommendations and specifications of the contractors before recommending an award, which Rhodes hopes will happen in the next few weeks. Change orders during the process are always possible, which could increase costs during the contract and affect the amount of leftover funds.

The language of the bond issue requires additional funds be spent on road paving and utility work, so they aren’t available for general spending by the city, Rhodes said. “We intentionally included other purposes,” Rhodes said, in case there were funds left over.

Demolition will begin almost immediately upon award of the contract and should be completed within 365 days, Rhodes said. At first, contractors will clear the building of hazardous substances and be doing other internal demolition, Rhodes said.

“The upshot is that the cost of the demolition is much less than estimated,” said Councilman Nick Scarpelli.

“It looks like that,” Rhodes said.

In other business, the council appointed individuals to boards and commissions.

Kathryn Gattens was appointed to the Shade Tree Commission. Appointed to the Downtown Development Commission were Sharon Mike, Bill Shaffer, Jo Ann Circosta, Terry Michels and Steven B. Leyh. Appointed to the Neighborhood Advisory Commission were Royce Hedrick, Kathryn Gattens, Jennifer Jeudy and Michael Cassidy.

Officials conducted a closed administrative session on collective bargaining and to consult counsel for legal advice, which occurred before the council meeting. A notice had been sent to inform the public and press of the closed meeting.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .