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Delays Plague Hatboro’s Fire Company Expansion Project

Borough, fire officials consult with attorneys to review ‘options.’

It was first expected to finish in August. Then September. Then October. Then Nov. 25. Now, mid-December is the projected completion date for ’s $886,000 , which has been underway since the spring.

That is if the borough decides to keep contractor Titanium Inc. on board.

Attorney Bob John, who represents the fire company in legal matters, said on Monday that the borough notified him last week that the intent was to file a claim against the bond that Titanium secured based on a “failure of performance.”

Hatboro Borough Manager Steven Plaugher would not comment on specifics, but instead said the borough council would meet in executive session Monday night.

“We’re looking at our options now,” Plaugher said. “We are concerned with the contractor and the quality of work and him putting enough personnel on the job to get the project finished in a timely manner.”

On Tuesday, Council President Marianne Reymer declined to discuss the outcome of the closed-meeting discussion as she said was directed by borough attorney, Mike Savona.

"It is a legal matter," Reymer said.

In the meantime, Titanium remains on the job. Enterprise Fire Company President Chris Gowen said he's seen as many as four men on the job at times and other days just one worker. Mark Gill, of Titanium, said he always has a minimum of three contractors working on the job.

Plaugher said the borough would likely move forward to “put them on notice,” meaning that Titanium could be removed from the project, which is funded by a $500,000 state grant, as well as matching borough funds. At the very least, the construction could be managed differently than is now the case, Plaugher said.

“It’s not quite as simple as going for the bond money,” Plaugher said. “The bond company is on the hook for that money. If Titanium could not finish that project, the ball would be in the bond company’s court to figure out what they want to do.”

The council is expected to review at its committee meeting tonight and consider for approval at its Nov. 28 meeting payment of $184,983.70 to Titanium for work completed. The council has also approved previously for the project.

Gill told Patch on Monday that he’s heard “rumors” that the borough is considering removing his company from the project.

“It would be a mistake at this point for them to remove us,” Gill said. “At the end of the day there’s going to be lawsuits going back and forth and the fire company wouldn’t have their project any faster.”

Gill first told Patch the 2-story, roughly 2,500-square-foot addition would be complete within six weeks. Hours later, Gill said it would wrap in a month.

And if it doesn’t?

“There’s no black and white with construction. You’ve got weather delays, material delays,” Gill said. “We’re not happy either with the schedule.”

But, since the contract between Titanium and the borough does not specify a deadline for completion, Gowen said it’s been next to impossible to enforce a strict deadline.

“If it was my house they’d be gone two months ago, three months ago,” Gowen said.

Unlike home construction projects, the firehouse expansion, because of its state and borough funding, must adhere to guidelines, including that the lowest bidder be retained for the work. Switching directions part way through would be a “debacle,” Gowen said, in particular because another contractor is unlikely to want to pick up where Titanium left off for fear of another company’s work not being up to par.

Gowen said the fire company has consulted with John because of concerns that Gill might walk away from the project.

“We don’t want to be left suddenly with an empty shell of a building,” Gowen said. “We’re just worried.”

Gill, who contends October was the original deadline and that it’s “never been August ever,” said the outdoor work, including stucco and painting, would wrap in two weeks. From there, he said all remaining work would be carried out inside the building.

“In construction there’s a period of time where it looks like nothing is getting done … and you make a turn and everything starts coming together,” Gill said, adding that the “turn” has already been made. “It’ll move very, very quickly from this point on.”

R. Johnson November 14, 2011 at 10:58 PM
I will take this back to my comment to the patch on August 8th.. Why did no one bother to properly check this company ?? It's been known for a while there have been problems with this project & certain people knew of them, but failed to be open & honest about it. Gee what's this going to cost the Borough now, or do we just plow on with this company & watch the building fall apart in a few years. Shameful & wasteful.

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