Shipbuilder’s plant contractors receive extension

New project deadline is May 17
March 2, 2021

Milton Town Council unanimously approved a request by three contractors for a contract extension to build a new water treatment plant at Shipbuilder’s Village.

Council agreed to extend the contract until Monday, May 17, after representatives from contractors Johnston Construction of Finksburg, Md., Delmarva Veteran Builders of Salisbury, Md., and Bilbrough’s Electric of Denton, Md., told council Feb. 1 that work had been delayed because they had not received a well-pump control system and the pouring of a concrete slab floor. 

In addition, Town Manager Kristy Rogers said there have been delays due to weather and permitting. However, the main issue is the delivery of the control system, which she said is not expected until mid-April. The contracted completion date was set for the end of March. 

The contractors were positive that once the control system is received, they would be able to complete the project by mid-May and were willing to work on weekends in order to meet the new deadline. 

Still, town officials expressed displeasure with the contractors, as work on the project has been slow, and questions about the pace of the work have not been answered to the town’s satisfaction. While voting to grant the extension, Councilman Sam Garde told the contractors not to come back for another extension without a compelling reason.

“Most work had not started on time. You are being granted an extension, not because you have been working all along and things happen, but because you haven’t been working very much. I don’t want to see cost increases without significant, adequate written justification,” Garde said. 

The town had originally planned to have the project under one contract. But bids came in higher than what the town was willing to pay, so the decision was made to divide the project into three separate contracts. The overall price, $475,000, was still higher than anticipated. The town had planned to use more than $200,000 in state funds to pay for the project, but it had to spend an additional $206,000 from the town water fund and previously unspent grant money to complete the project. 

Johnston Construction has the general construction contract, Delmarva Veteran Builders has the architectural contract and Bilbrough’s Electric has the electrical contract. The project includes a new water treatment building, driveway improvements and a well pump connection. The architectural contract includes building pipes and conducting site work. The building construction itself is the second contract, and electrical work is the third. 

The plant is the final project under an $895,000 state loan that was passed in a July 2018 referendum. The first two projects, a new water main at Wagamon’s West Shores and a new well at Shipbuilder’s Village, have already been completed. Town officials said the projects would improve water flow all over town and create two new wells that would be out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain.

The town procured the money from the state Water Infrastructure Advisory Council at a 2 percent interest rate over a 20-year term. Residents will pay an additional $7.50 per quarter, or $30 per year, on their utility bills to finance the debt service on the loan. Residents voted 493-38 in favor of borrowing the money.  

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