Work on municipal building resumes - Project is almost a year behind schedule

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

SPARTA - After sitting abandoned for six months, the new township municipal building registered some activity this week when crews began limited work to prepare the beleaguered facility for winter. Township manager Henry Underhill said the bonding company responsible for completion of the $5.2 million project had finally settled on a new contractor for the exterior of the building. Integrated Construction Enterprises, a New Jersey company specializing in government and public arenas, was already on-site installing scaffolding, removing debris, and sealing up the building for the winter and the commencement of interior work. “We’re very happy that the bonding company has said the right things and that they are doing the right things to get the job done,” said Underhill. “Once they get it sealed up, there’s no reason why someone shouldn’t be able to work through the winter.” Underhill said a company has not been contracted for the interior work, but that Integrated Construction was involved in the bidding process with Atlantic Mutual Insurance. He expects a decision by the end of this week. Atlantic Mutual Insurance assumed financial responsibility for the project in July, but negotiations on a new contractor had routinely broken down until now. Meanwhile, Underhill continues to insist that Atlantic Mutual Insurance is financially liable for the project. “It’s the bonding company’s responsibility, they have to make good on it,” said Underhill. “How we work it out with the bonding company, I don’t know, but -- yes -- we will.” Atlantic Mutual had been meticulously seeking a replacement contractor since Horizon Contracting of Union County stopped working on the project more than six months ago. Construction on the project had begun in the spring of 2004 and was scheduled for completion in November of that year. Sparta officials have not yet been given a new date for completion of the building. Township officials insist that construction delays or liquidating damages incurred by the new municipal building won’t mount to unexpected costs for Sparta taxpayers. Underhill said the construction delays have contributed to a mold problem growing inside the building. Delays in construction had forced township employees to work in the existing 100-year-old building through the past winter and endure a faulty heating system, leaking roof when it rained, termites, and overcrowding. Underhill said that temporary heating would be installed this winter in the current building at about $2,500 per month When completed, the new 35,000 square-foot municipal building would be twice its original size featuring a new security system; the police department will have state-of-the-art facilities; the courtroom an expanded capacity to seat 100; and visitors access to “one-stop shopping” for municipal services.