OCEAN CITY — With August heading into its final stretch and Labor Day weekend near, the new Caroline Street Performing Arts Stage and Comfort Station is still far from completion, and the contractor is now into its penalty phase for missing the deadline.
The old underground restrooms at Caroline Street and the Boardwalk were demolished last December and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art facility complete with a performing arts stage began shortly thereafter with a projected finish date in May before the arrival of the summer season. However, an wet spring slowed the construction process and it became apparent the new facility would not be completed for the start of the summer season.
When poor weather continued through much of June, further slowing the construction of the new facility, the city contracted with a private waste disposal company to provide temporary restrooms for Boardwalk visitors on a site immediately adjacent to the construction site and just behind the Fireman’s Memorial on North Division.
The contractor, Black Diamond, accelerated the construction process through the rest of the summer and the facility on the ground in recent weeks has started to resemble the conceptual designs and blueprints presented to the Mayor and Council, but the project is far from complete and will likely take nearly another month, carrying it beyond Sunfest and into late September, according to City Engineer Terry McGean.
“The contractor has exceeded his contract time and is now into financial penalties,” said McGean this week. “As of late yesterday [Wednesday], he said he felt he would need another 28 days to complete the project.”
The contract had built-in deadlines that have not been met and as the project moves on through late August and into September, the fines for not meeting those deadlines are now starting to accrue. McGean acknowledged the difficult weather and the aggressive construction schedule, particularly for a facility built largely from poured concrete and the tight weather windows that often entails.
“Obviously, this has been a difficult project,” he said. “But on the positive side, I am pleased with the overall look of the building.”
The facility, designed by local architect David Quillin, went through several incarnations before the council agreed on its final design.