County officials said they had met with Belcor Construction Company of Hackensack on March 15. According to the resolution approved by the freeholders, the county engineer had reviewed the state us the project and found that Belcor had failed to complete the project as scheduled due to unspecified financial reasons.
The project was supposed to be finished by Feb. 1, although several freeholders said they expected the delays to push completion date to April. Now, with Belcor in default, the project will likely take many more months to complete.
Bob Jasek, the county engineer, said the bonding company assigned to make certain Belcor competed the project must take over and find an alternative contractor to finish the task.
Although the project is 70 percent compete and requires only two more months of construction, the bonding company intends to bid out the project stretching the waiting period out to six months.
Freeholder Bill O'Dea said he had serious concerns about the delay.
Among the work assigned to Belcor was the construction of an Administration building in Lincoln Park. O'Dea said summer camp programs that would benefit numerous kids housed in the area's projects had to be suspended last summer because the building was still under construction.
"I was told it would be done no later than April," he said. "Now you're telling me September. Last year, I was assured this would not be a problem this summer. That camp has been a mainstay for kids in that neighborhood for over 15 years."
Jasek said the building's doors, windows and roof are all complete, but that work still needed to be done before it could become operations.
O'Dea also raised concerns about whether or not the county had the ability to make the bonding company move more quickly.
"I know we could impose a penalty on Belcor for not finishing on time, but what is there in this contract that could hold the toes of the bonding company to the fire to make certain they don't delay?" O'Dea asked.
Freeholder Al Cifelli said this was a good point, because without some kind of enforcement power, the bonding company could delay awarding a bid until construction costs were favorable.
Under the penalty clause in the contract, the county could assesses a fine on Belcor of $300 for every day over the original project deadline. Freeholders were less certain about what could be done to push the bonding company into meeting deadlines.
In other business, the freeholders approved a $988,800 construction contract to renovate some sections of the former Meadowview Hospital campuses, facilities that formerly served as the county's geriatric hospital, but have since largely been used for storage.
County Engineer Bob Jasek said the county intends to make office space out of the first floor and storage in the basement areas.
"The total space is about 10,000 square feet," he said.
Freeholders also approved a change to the salary of the county's Planning Board attorney that would up the yearly fee $4,000, but would also give the attorney $100 per hour for any lawsuits handled.
This is a change from past practice in which the attorney received $24,000 - which included the price of litigation.
Freeholder Bill O'Dea, in attempting to drop the $100 per hour clause, said the resolution proposed a significant change the attorney's contract, and could amount to a significant amount of money if the planning board is sued.
Jasek said the planning board would be facing increased workload including a revision of the county's master plan. This would mean more meetings and additional research and writing of resolutions.
O'Dea's effort failed and the freeholders passed the resolution granted both payment provisions.