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The Aegis
Harford County

$5.3 million contract approved for office building at Harford water treatment plant

A contract originally rejected last month by the Harford County Board of Estimates was approved Thursday morning for a new division of water and sewer operations headquarters to be constructed at the newly expanded Abingdon Water Treatment plant.

The contract, $5.3 million, was awarded to Forrester Construction Co., of Rockville, to design and construct the building at the treatment plant on Abingdon Road. Approval came just hours after the county held a ribbon cutting and official opening for the $70 million plant expansion.

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The three-story, 25,500 square-foot building will serve as the main business and engineering office for the water and sewer operations, currently housed several locations.

In late May, the estimates board rejected the contract after some questions about the project and the bids were not immediately answered by procurement and water and sewer representatives.

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Deputy Director of Public Works, Water and Sewer Division, Joel Caudill told the board that compared to other county buildings constructed over the years, the new office building is comparable in cost by square foot.

"It's as cost effective as anything we've built," Caudill said. "It's a very cost effective building."

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He added that the building's design will be as sustainable as possible, including a high efficiency HVAC system.

The third floor, procurement documents state, will be a "dark shell" for economical purposes, which essentially means it won't be occupied at first, so the floor will not heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical or plumbing fixtures, just future connections for them.

"[The building] is slightly more costly in initial construction, [but] will pay for [itself]," Caudill said, referring to sustainability measures.

"The square foot price is an excellent price," noted board member Warren Hamilton, a citizen representative with long experience in the construction field. He noted, however, that the cost per square foot wasn't one of the issues brought up the last time the contract was before the board.

Caudill commented that there was "a lot of give and take in the process" of coming up with a budget both the county and Forrester was comfortable with.

Hamilton also pointed out that there was no owner's contingency fund in the cost breakdown, which was an issue he brought up in the previous meeting.

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He added that the pre-construction fee is "probably heavy," but that allows to the company to have a type contingency fund.


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