City Forced To Fix Contractor Error At Conv. Center

OCEAN CITY – Unexpected Convention Center repairs at a cost of $40,000 were approved this week by the City Council, despite concerns over the original work.

City Engineer Terry McGean came before the Mayor and Council this week, requesting their approval of the use of funds from the Capitol Reserve Account to replace the steel frame of the canopy sheathing along the Convention Center Visitors Center.

Last year, both the Stadium Authority and the City Council approved the use of funds from the Capitol Reserve Account to replace sheathing and to re-coat the steel frame. The project took an unexpected turn, however, when a corroded steel frame was discovered. McGean explained that as crews began the process, unexpected repairs came to light when they discovered a severely corroded steel frame that would need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $40,000.

In order to fund the replacement, McGean recommended using funds from the Capitol Reserve Account.

“The purpose of this account is to handle these types of things at the Convention Center,” McGean said.

The Capitol Reserve Account currently maintains a balance of $676,000. McGean noted that the Stadium Authority had already approved the use of additional funds from the account for the repairs.

“Myself and the representative from Whitman Requardt, the consulting engineer for the project, both feel that the frame can not be repaired and must be replaced,” said McGean.

The severe corrosion of the frame is attributed to the original installation, which was completed nearly 10 years ago. McGean explained that when the roof was fastened to the frame, some areas were welded while others were drilled, in an effort to fasten the roof to the frame quickly. As a result, the steel frame has been corroding from the inside out for the past 10 years.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas questioned whether the original builder could be held accountable.

“Usually we get a one-year warranty and it’s been 10 years since the building was done,” said McGean, noting that too much time had passed to hold that builder accountable.

McGean said he assumes the work was done hastily in an effort to finish the project and was overlooked until recently.

“If somebody had done a mis-step, why should we be held accountable?” questioned Pillas.

“The problem really didn’t become apparent until last year. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world and these things happen,” McGean said.

Councilman Jim Hall said the mistake is one that could have easily been avoided.

“That’s an atrocity that 10 years of steel is shot like that,” said Hall. “Somebody missed that, I think it’s a shame.”

McGean assured the council that the work would be done correctly this time, noting that the same builder would not be used for the repair work.

“Its actually a contractor that’s used to doing high-end industrial projects,” he said of the current builder. “I feel pretty confident that we won’t have the same problem in the future.”

McGean noted that the city is in the process of getting a price estimate for replacing the steel framing with aluminum.

“If doing it in aluminum is less than $40,000, then we will do it in aluminum,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the use of the funds for the replacement of the frame.