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ECC officials await lawmakers' OK for construction at athletic facility; Hope to minimize impact on events

A leaking roof that is dripping water into the pool at Erie Community College's Burt Flickinger Center has college and county officials sprinting to get contracts in place to work on the building this summer.

College officials hope to schedule a $6.17 million project to replace the roof and upgrade the building's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system during the summer months when there are fewer classes and athletic teams using the gym.

The project is expected to shut down the athletic facility for up to three months, and college officials want to minimize the impact on athletic events.

But a delay in getting approval from the County Legislature to award contracts to four contractors has put the project's start date in question.

"We're up against time," said William D. Reuter, ECC's chief administrative and financial officer. "We were trying to push this through at the tail end of last year, and things sort of just stalled."

County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has asked legislators to vote Thursday on four contracts for the work.

The county sought bids from contractors in the fall, but former County Executive Chris Collins held off on seeking approval from the Legislature to award the contracts until the new county executive took office.

"The Collins administration wanted to leave this to the new administration to handle," said Timothy C. Callan, deputy budget director for Poloncarz.

The project -- initially estimated to cost $3.5 million -- has been in the works for more than four years, but several factors have held up its progress.

County officials opened bids for four contracts for general construction, electrical, plumbing and mechanical work in October and will award contracts to the company deemed to be the "lowest responsible bidder" in each category.

Legislators will be asked to approve a $271,000 contract with Frey Electric Construction Co., a $180,000 contract with MKS Plumbing Corp., a $2.8 million contract with D.V. Brown & Associates for mechanical construction and a $2.47 million contract with Rodems Construction Co. Inc.

The county will also set aside $450,000 for a construction contingency fund.

In one case, the county did not choose the lowest bidder for the work. County officials received six bids for general construction work that ranged from $2.33 million to $2.87 million. The county chose the second-lowest bid, which was from Rodems Construction. The lowest bid was submitted by Bliss Construction Inc.

Callan said he could not discuss why Bliss Construction was not chosen because of "potential litigation."

Legislator Lynn Marinelli, who is chairwoman of the Legislature's Community Enrichment Committee, said she is concerned that the project gets done this summer so that it doesn't impact events, such as swim meets, hosted at the athletic center. Those events, she said, bring in sales tax revenue to the area when parents and athletes stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants.

Reuter said the college has held off on scheduling outside events at the athletic facility during the summer months in anticipation that it will be closed for construction.

"We have a small window during the summer," Reuter said.

email: djgee@buffnews.com