Havre de Grace High, Youth's Benefit Elementary projects continue to move forward

Harford County's two largest school construction projects, the replacement of Youth's Benefit Elementary School in Fallston and a new Havre de Grace High and Middle School, are continuing to move forward with major contracts approved for both last week.

By a vote of 7-2, the Harford County Board of Education approved a $3.18 million architectural and engineering contract for the Havre de Grace High/Middle School project at the board's most recent meeting June 9.

The board also unanimously approved construction administration and management contracts, totaling more than $4.3 million, for the new Youth's Benefit building.

Havre de Grace High/Middle

The contract for Havre de Grace was awarded to Grimm & Parker Architects, which has offices in Baltimore, Calverton and McLean and Charlottesville, Va., and has also been the design firm selected for the replacements of Bel Air and Edgewood high schools.

The contract will cover "completing schematic design drawings, design development documents and construction documents that will allow us to meet the state deadlines for submission for the project," Cornell Brown, assistant superintendent for operations for Harford County Public Schools, told school board members.

Brown said the architect must submit documents to the state's Public School Construction Program before Sept. 1 and more documents before Nov. 1, which would allow Harford school officials to seek construction money from the state.

"Later in the year, the state and our local government would approve funding for the construction of the school facility, and we would continue to move forward with the design process," Brown continued.

The county has already approved $4.9 million for design services.

Brown said school officials' goal is to have all bid and construction documents complete by the spring of 2015 and put construction out for bid by next summer.

"If we do not move forward with the award of this contract for design services we will have compromised our ability to request construction funds for the Havre de Grace project, and therefore we will put the project behind another year," Brown explained.

Members of the Havre de Grace community have been pushing the school system and the county in recent years to replace the aging Havre de Grace High School.

The present school facility opened in 1955, according to the school system website, and it was expanded in the 1980s. The campus is divided among the main school building, the auditorium and the athletic fields by the T-intersection at Congress Avenue and Juniata Street.

The project has grown to include Havre de Grace Middle School, which opened in 1967, according to the county school system website, and the combined school would be built on land along Lewis Lane occupied by the middle school.

Two board members, Vice President Francis "Rick" Grambo and Robert Frisch, voted against awarding the contract.

Frisch asked Brown about the progress of the development of Harford County's countywide facilities master plan – school system officials, along with representatives of the county government, libraries, Harford Community College and volunteer fire companies – have been working with Jacobs Project Management Company of Baltimore since January to inspect all public buildings in the county and develop a capital improvement program based on the needs of each building.

The facilities with the greatest needs would rank the highest for capital funds.

Brown said school system representatives met with Jacobs representatives previous week to review the first draft of their analysis, and additional meetings are scheduled for June. He said a completed document should be available in the fall.

Frisch asked Brown if the final document "would have the potential to influence us regarding the order of any capital projects."

"Yes, that would be correct," Brown answered.

Youth's Benefit Elementary

The contracts awarded for Youth's Benefit's new building include a $722,071 construction administration design/engineering contract with Gilbert Architects Inc. of Lancaster, Pa., and a $3.6 million construction management contract with Dustin Construction Inc. of Frederick County.

According to information submitted to the board from school administration staff, Gilbert's fee for architectural/engineering services was negotiated. Dustin was selected through competitive negotiation after three firms were selected from among seven who submitted proposals. According to the documents, Dustin's fee was negotiated based upon the scope of the multi-phased, 44-month project.

School officials plan to award a construction contract for the $45 million project this summer and work will begin. Last month, contacts were let to relocate existing portable classrooms on the site that will be used during construction and to construct a temporary septic system.

Joe Licata, HCPS chief of administration, said Monday they won't be using just one general contractor who submits a single bid for re whole job.

"We use a process called 'multiple prime' contracting where we break the whole job into numerous bid packages (15 to 25)," he explained. "We hold to contracts under the supervision of a construction manager. Each  package is publically bid and awards to the lowest bidder."

"We have received [construction contract] bids and are still evaluating," Licata continued. "It is highly possible that we will award some of the bid packages [at the upcoming school board meeting] on Monday {June] 23rd. Our hope is to begin site work end of August."

The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2017-18 school year.

A 149,000-square-foot school will be built on two levels to replace the two existing buildings on the property off Route 152.

The new building will be constructed around the existing buildings in a manner that students will continue to attend classes on the site while construction is in progress.

Capacity of the new Youth's Benefit building will be 1,130 students. About 950 students attended Youth's Benefit this past school year.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad