Government

South Orange OKs Additional $262K for Village Hall Asbestos Removal

Asbestos removal continues at South Orange Village Hall. Credits: Amy Kiste Nyberg

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ (UPDATED) – Removal of asbestos continues to bog down the Village Hall renovation, with the Board of Trustees approving an additional $262,561 for abatement and extending the removal deadline to July 1.

The board voted, 5-1, on June 2 to approve the change orders and additional compensation for the contractor, Tricon. Trustee Sheena Collum voted no. She explained that her "no" vote was a vote against the project as a whole, not the change orders specifically. She wants the board to reconsider selling Village Hall.

That was $80,000 less than what was originally requested by Tricon, according to Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr. Tricon’s original bid for the project was $194,000, considerably below the next lowest bidder. The change orders themselves are more than the original bid.

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“Tricon came in in good faith,” Lewis said. “These conditions were unforeseeable, and any contractor that took the job would have been seeking compensation … at least this much, if not more.”

Most of the additional work involves removing contaminated plaster and debris that could not be seen in the initial assessment of the building, according to Lewis. For example, the ceiling over the dais in the main meeting room had been plastered over, so it wasn’t until that first layer was removed that the problem was identified, he explained.

In another case, according to Lewis, sheetrock behind the elevator lift was covering contaminated plaster.

“Obviously, any time you get changes, it’s disappointing,” he said. “But you would be naive to think you could open up a 120-year-old building and not get some surprises.” Lewis said the only other options available to the village would be to dispute the change order requests, which would be costly in terms of time and money, or to halt all work and put the project back out to bid.

The change orders were reviewed by Lewis, project engineer Kevin Herrighty, construction manager Mitchell Fritz and village counsel Steve Rother.

With the change orders, Tricon would be paid $428,091.60 for its work. Lewis noted that some of the work Tricon will do would have been done by the general contractor in the next phase of construction, such as removing a staircase and removing the elevator.

Trustee Deborah Davis Ford sought assurances that there would be no more change orders for the asbestos removal. “I need to be assured that this is it,” she said. “That every possible surprise has been identified.”

Lewis said, “That’s pretty safe to say on this,” noting that the building has been entirely opened up. “They’ve exposed everything there is to expose.”

A detailed memo from Lewis describing the work can be found here.

The estimated cost of the two-year renovation project is $6.5 million, according to Lewis.

UPDATE: This version of the story includes an explanation of Trustee Sheena Collum's vote.

 

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