Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:00 AM
Published on: Thursday, July 11, 2013
By Holden Wilen
OLNEY – Residents hoping to check out a book at the Olney Library may finally be able to do so in December, according to Montgomery County’s general services department director.
Construction on the library, which originally closed for renovation in December 2010, hit a recent snag after subcontractors stopped work and the general contractor, Milestone Construction, announced it will cease operations at the end of the year.
County Executive Ike Leggett sent a letter to members of the Greater Olney Civic Association, updating them on the recent events concerning the library. David Dise, director of the county’s general services department, attended a GOCA meeting Tuesday to further explain to residents what is going on.
“Milestone’s president has assured us that they are firmly committed to finishing this job,” Dise said, “but any of those of you who go past the library have noticed that in order to finish a job you actually have to work on the job.”
Dise said the county’s construction representatives noticed work by the subcontractors began to slip two months ago until there was a virtual shutdown of construction a month ago. The subcontractors stopped performing work, Dise said, because they were not receiving payment from Milestone.
Dise said he met with Milestone representatives, as well as representatives from bonding agency and underwriter Zurich, on July 3 to express the county’s concern about the project. Since the meeting, Dise said Zurich issued payments to the subcontractors, who are beginning to work again on the library.
Despite meeting with Milestone representatives every week, Dise said the announcement the contractor will cease operations at the end of the year was unexpected.
“When we qualified them among other companies to bid on this project, there was nothing in their submission that would indicate any kind of instability in the company,” Dise said. “This was a complete surprise to us.”
Olney residents expressed concern because the library closed more than two years ago. Delays related to the architectural plans caused construction to not begin until January 2012, with expected completion in mid-to-late August. Now that Milestone is going out of business at the end of the year, residents attending the GOCA meeting wanted to know when the project will be finished. Leggett said in his letter to GOCA the company will finish the project with assurances from Zurich.
“I want to personally assure you that the County will work closely with the bonding company to assure that the library project continues to move forward in as timely a manner as possible,” Leggett wrote.
The project is currently 63 percent complete, Dise said. Though he will not know the exact schedule completion until a July 17 meeting with Milestone representatives, Dise said the county is estimating construction of the library to be completed in October. There is a six-week process, he said – to get library staff in place, set up the library and stack books – so the library would not be open until December.
The county last announced the project was 45 percent complete in January. Although only 18 percent of work was completed during the next six months, Dise said the final 37 percent of work can be completed in three months because of the type of work being done at different stages of the project.
“In the initial phases of the project, they break ground,” Dise said. “There is subsurface work, foundations and utility work. Then you see a lot of progress because the frame goes up. Then, in the case of the Olney Library, there is a lot of masonry work, steel fabrication and that work takes time and is slow going just by its nature. The latter stages of the project, when you are coming in and doing drywall and laying carpet, that happens very rapidly.”
The first 50-60 percent of construction takes longer to complete, Dise said, while the last stages are completed more rapidly.
Overall, residents have said they want the library completed so they can check out books. County officials have the same goal in mind.
“Like you, I look forward to the day when we can stand together and celebrate the opening of the new and improved Olney Library building,” Leggett said.