BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Township Council members wrote another chapter in the Municipal Complex saga at the Aug. 20, 2019, meeting when they pulled two resolutions from the agenda, both related to the Municipal Complex project.

Resolution 2 would have authorized an amendment to the contract with three contractors and Resolution 3 would have approved Change Order OO7 to slightly enlarge the Police Department.

The council spent about an hour in an executive session before the public meeting began to discuss “Attorney-Client Privilege – Contract Negotiations” with each group. The council also met with JCP&L/YMCA on another attorney-client-privilege – contract negotiations related matter.

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Shortly after the public meeting started Sean Edmonds, senior project manager at MAST Construction Services, gave an update on construction at the project.The good news is one half of the basement slab was poured earlier that day and the other half of the slab will be “poured and installed on Monday,” weather permitting, said Edmonds. He then showed images of the site. His presentation can be seen on  Livestream here at 1:05:50 

Edmonds said, “I know there is concern about the lack of steel going up,” since he had predicted at the May 29 meeting of the council it would be going up in July. “They (the contractors) are preparing to have steel here very soon after Labor Day, the early part of September.”

The delay is a result of underground water discovered by contractors under the footprint of the Municipal Complex. The water delayed everything, while contractors designed, then installed an under-slab drainage system. When that was finished, the job continued as planned, and as of Monday, weather permitting, the second half of the slab should be poured and installed.  Once the slab is finished, contractors will prepare the steel, begin damp-proofing the exterior foundation walls and start installing the perimeter drainage that goes around the building.

Edmonds said, “We (MAST) are doing a deep-dive on the schedule provided by the contractor” to see the reasons for the delays and change orders. MAST has also engaged a scheduling consultant to look at it from a technical aspect, so they will know “how we got here today,” he said. He then ran through a list of problems that have been encountered, from unsuitable soils, the discovery of asbestos tiles and petroleum hydrocarbons, the building was lowered and finding underground water. Edmonds said some delays are “excusable” but there are others that are “un-excusable.” 

Right after Labor Day, before the next Council meeting, MAST will be prepared to tell the council when “we think the final end date of the schedule is, based on the activities and delays that have happened through today,” said Edmonds.MAST will also request a recovery schedule for any non-excusable delays that have been encountered to date, he said.

At this point Mayor Angie Devanney, who was attending the meeting by Skype, called out EPIC. “We are incredibly frustrated by this process” and what has happened. “Epic has repeatedly filed for extensions without consultation or input from the township.” She said because of these issues, the council will pull the contract resolutions in anticipation of the analysis from MAST. The mayor’s complete statement can be found here.

Edmonds told the mayor he heard her “loud and clear.”

Architect Anthony Iovino gave the council and public an update on what the duties of the architect is beyond designing the building. While architects are less visible during construction, there is a lot of paperwork they do at their office on a day-to-day basis. “Every decision of what goes in a building” must be approved by the contractor before it is purchased, to make sure the items being purchased are what were specified in the design. “We are here to ensure your contractors follow the terms of the quality of workmanship and quality of product.”  He said MAST is more of the “eyes and ears” of the township, while the architects are the “eyes and ears” of the contracts.

As for the resolutions that were pulled, Resolution 2 authorized extensions that generated additional fees for three contractors:

  • Melick-Tully for the provision of subsurface investigation services for the project for an addition fee of non-to-exceed $50,000;
  • Arcari for an addition fee of not-to-exceed $92,500;
  • MAST Construction Services for the provision of general construction/project management services for an additional fee of not-to-exceed $244,500.

Each of those amendments would extend the contracts for a term to coincide with the completion of the Redevelopment Project.

Township Administrator Liza Viana said the funding for MAST “ran out at the end of July.” There was a lot more pre-construction work than was originally contracted for, she said.

Resolution 3 would approve Change Order 007, which adds $76,343.23 to the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of the project, bringing it to $26,913,941.40.  This is still less than the $32 million in bonds authorized by the township to pay for the municipal complex.

Initially, in February 2017, the council approved a $28 million bond and then approved it a second time in October 2017, when it was discovered some paperwork needed to be filed with the Department of Community Affairs before the adoption could be official. 

The ordinance approving the additional $4 million in bonds was approved at the July 10, 2018 meeting.  The vote can be seen on here at 1:07:00

The original GMP agreed upon on July 11, 2018, was $26,828,574. Since that time, beginning on Dec. 4, there have been six change orders approved.  The first three, in aggregate, reduced the GMP to $26,374,104.87 and were adopted by resolution by the council on Dec. 4, 2018.

On May 29, Change Order Number 004 increased the GMP by $133,590.85. On June 25, Change Order Number 005 was approved and changed the GMP by $194,049.81. On July 9, Change Order Number 006 increased the GMP by $135,852.64 and, for the first time, caused the GMP to exceed the original GMP by $9,024.17.

The work authorized by Change Order 007 involves moving the food pantry from the senior office space to a storage area of the same size located directly across the hall from the senior’s office. The change was made because it permitted the police department to use the space previously used as the food pantry.

That switch increased the size of the police department by the size of the food pantry and permitted a secure wall to be placed at the end of the police department area.  The switch also required changes to the electrical and HVAC for each of the spaces, according to the architect.