City Bringing In ‘Third Party’ To Fix Comfort Station Leaks

City Bringing In ‘Third Party’ To Fix Comfort Station Leaks
Ongoing leaks in the towers of the new Caroline Street Comfort Station will be funded through money withheld from the original project contractor. Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY – The Caroline Street Comfort Station is experiencing ongoing construction issues this winter that will be addressed through an outside contractor.

“The only problem we are experiencing right now is leaking in the towers,” City Engineer Terry McGean said on Wednesday. “I had a third party come in and do a leak test, and we will probably use that same third party to make the repairs and use the money we are withholding from the contractor to pay for it.”

The building uses a heated floor to heat the building, and according to McGean, the floor is operating correctly, although the pipes did freeze this winter.

“The pipes froze, but they were reinsulated and we haven’t had a problem since,” McGean said.

The Caroline Street Comfort Station is currently open to the public and will be fully operational this summer, furthered McGean, who is waiting for a cost estimate from the third party who conducted the leak test to have the towers fixed.

“The leaks have been ongoing and the contractor hasn’t been able to fix them, and so I brought in somebody else to look at them,” McGean said.

In December, McGean advised the contractor, Black Diamond Builders, if the Caroline Street Comfort Station did not meet certain completion goals by the end of that month, he would formally request the contractor’s bond company take over and complete the project. In the end, however, it did not come to that.

McGean explained when the town bids and contracts a project over $100,000 the contractor is required to supply a performance bond and payment bond, which both act as a form of insurance. A payment bond guarantees the subcontractors are paid and the performance bond guarantees the project gets built. If a project’s performance bond is called, the contractor is taken off the project, and the bond company brings in its own construction crew to finish the project.

The town was under a $938,000 contract with Black Diamond Builders for the project. The project was funded by a bond issued in 2012 along with funding to reconstruct the Boardwalk, which was completed last spring.

The old underground restrooms at Caroline Street and the Boardwalk were demolished December of 2012 and the construction of the new, state-of-the-art facility complete with bathrooms and a performing arts stage began shortly thereafter with a projected finish date in May of 2013 before the arrival of the summer season. However, a wet spring and some poor decisions slowed the construction process, and it became apparent the new facility would not be completed for the start of the summer season.
Consequently, after it was realized the project would not be ready at all for summer, 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.
At the end of August, the contractor entered into its penalty phase for missing the deadline.

According to McGean, if a project is not completed within the timeframe stated in the contract, liquidated damages is assessed at $1,000 a day until the project is delayed to cover town expenses that have occurred as a result of the delay in the project, such as the port-a-potty rentals, the additional time to pay the architect, potential lost revenue such as from the loss of use of the stage and now a leaky roof.