Town Hall move affects addition's contract for the construction job

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CHAPEL HILL - Immediately after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted on Friday for a final construction contract to build an addition to Town Hall, the document itself was inaccessible.

"The contract is in a filing cabinet and it's locked," City Recorder Dawn Lovins told Mayor Carl Cooper who'd just been authorized to sign the document which is a big part of the reason the filing cabinet's contents were inaccessible.

Almost everything in Town Hall on Unionville Road was moved last week to the old county ambulance station building in downtown Chapel Hill, just across the street from the Police and Fire departments' building. The Lions Club-owned building is now Town Hall, temporarily.

"I'm hoping it will only be 120 days," Town Administrator Mike Hatten said on how long Town Hall will be downtown.

Lovins' suggestion to the mayor: "Come see me Monday" for the contract.

Cooper, who continues to be supportive of the staff, took a gentle jab back, "Why don't you get your act in order?"

Hatten said the town's staff had been moving furniture, computer equipment, telephones, files and a wide variety of office equipment since Tuesday.

Lewisburg-based Truette Construction, led by John Chunn of Chapel Hill, was awarded the $169,000 contract to build the 2,200-square-foot addition designed by Mike Stewart of Murfreesboro. That Oct. 12 decision led to the special Friday session of the town board to formalize the contract, review a few final points, and get Chunn's crews to work.

"It does meet the state requirement of a 25 percent bond," Town Attorney Todd Moore advised. "We hold a 10 percent retainage (of the dollar amount to be paid for construction) until there's substantial completion. Then we keep two percent until the punch list (of final tasks) is complete."

Hatten added, "As building inspector, I have to hold them to the ICC (International Code Council) Building Codes."

He also confirmed that the drive-through road would retain its same route -- "Same loop - for residents to pay their utility bills at Town Hall after the addition is completed.

"And the Nathan Bedford Forrest Monument will remain standing," the town administrator said.

The pending addition to Chapel Hill's Town Hall has been needed for nearly two years.

"I'm the one who pushed that," Alderman Henry Frame said during a brief interview before the town board met on Friday. "I told the board ... a long time ago that we needed to do it."

Frame estimated that at about 18 months ago.

"This is the time to do it," he said when asked about market conditions.

Construction projects are enjoying a competitive market as the recession has yet to return construction jobs to their level just more than a year ago now. Truette's bid of $169,000 was successful over bids of $189,000 and $286,000 from two other area contractors. Truette's bid was lower than the average of all three bids.