Architect Retained To Complete Berlin Library Design Process

Architect Retained To Complete Berlin Library Design Process
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BERLIN – The same architect who started the design of the new Berlin library will continue the work thanks to approval from the Worcester County Commissioners this week.

In spite of concerns about not soliciting bids for the work, the commissioners agreed to grant the Worcester County Library’s request to have architect Jeff Schoellkopf complete design services for the new library proposed for Harrison Avenue. Jennifer Ranck, acting director of the Worcester County Library, says she expects the process to run smoothly with Schoellkopf.

“We see this as a cost savings by having someone who understands the goal of the library,” Ranck said.

She said library officials had spent the past year working with Schoellkopf on the planning and pre-design of the library, which will replace the aging facility on Main Street. The small building there will be replaced by an 11,000-square-foot, two-story structure on Harrison Avenue. The new facility will include the same areas the current library does but will also feature additional computer space, meeting rooms and enhanced accessibility.

When the commissioners asked Ranck why they should waive the bid process, she told them Schoellkopf had proved extremely helpful during the past year, providing feedback, answering questions and offering insight.

“It’s been the most satisfying experience,” she said.

County Engineer Bill Bradshaw agreed that continuing the process with the architect would benefit the county.

“His performance to date has been very good,” he said.

Kelly Shanahan, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer, reminded the commissioners the design work fell into the category of professional services, which did not require the solicitation of bids.

“It’s more important that you get the right person than the lowest bid,” he said.

Schoellkopf told the commissioners that the $346,000 proposed for the design work was the same amount he had bid on the Ocean City library design a decade ago.

“I bid competitively on the Ocean City library in 2005 and the amount here is identical 10 years later,” he said.

The commissioners voted 6-0, with Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw absent, to approve the proposal. Though the cost of the work is projected at $326,000, the Worcester County Library Foundation has raised $246,000 to fund much of it.

Ranck said it was still too early to say when construction of the new library might begin. She said the project would depend on state and county funding during the next fiscal year.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.