Pocomoke Library Branch Design Efforts Move Forward

SNOW HILL – Detailed design work for a new Pocomoke library can now begin following approval from county officials.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to move forward with detailed design work for a new Pocomoke library. The approval comes after library officials took steps to reduce project costs at the request of the commissioners.

“The library board and staff are excited to move into the full design phase of this project,” said Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library, following the meeting. “We look forward to sharing progress plans with the commissioners and county administration in the months to come.”

Last month, when Ranck approached the commissioners seeking approval of a contract for design and bidding of a new Pocomoke branch, elected officials expressed concern with estimated project costs. At the time, staff said the projected cost of the new structure was $9.4 million, which included $520,000 for architectural and engineering design services as well as $1.2 million in contingency and escalation funding. The actual building cost was estimated at $8.7 million, or $691 a square foot.

The commissioners told Ranck they wanted to see the project’s estimated cost reduced to $600 a square foot.

Ranck and Procurement Officer Nicholas Rice returned to the commissioners this week with updated project estimates. The new projected cost is $7,426,254, or $592.54 per square foot. Changes incorporated to reduce project costs included reducing the building size by 567 square feet and elimination of geothermal and photovoltaic systems.

Rice said the library was now seeking approval to hire JSD Inc., for a fee of $468,301, to provide professional services to develop detailed building plans as well as specifications for bidding.

Commissioner Jim Bunting asked if the approval was for a design that the commissioners would be able to review and adjust later.

“This would be contracting for complete design phase services,” Rice said.

Bunting asked if there was something intermediate the commissioners could review before a final design was completed. Ranck said the library was only at 10% design now and that bid alternates would be developed and the commissioners would be updated.

Commissioner Caryn Abbott said she wanted to make sure the project would be subject to a bidding process.

“It seemed like reading through it Whiting Turner was the assumed builder,” she said.

Ranck said Whiting Turner had been hired to provide cost estimates for the project.

“We will bid out the construction part of it,” Rice said.

Commissioner Chip Bertino echoed Bunting’s interest in getting design information for the project before it was complete.

“As far as us getting updates during this process, 50%, however you decide how that is, you understand that’s what we want?” he said.

“Correct,” Rice said.

The commissioners voted unanimously to proceed with detailed design, instructing library officials to provide an update once the design reaches the 50% point.

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.