Board review historical high school renovation project bid

By Amy Jo Martin, amartin@tidewaterreview.com

2:17 PM EST, December 10, 2013


NEW KENT – The historic high school project may soon be underway, if the Board of Supervisors moves forward with a bid by Marengo Management Corporation.

The board delayed acting Monday night on an unsolicited PPEA (Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002) bid submitted by Marengo Management on Nov. 25. to renovate the 20,000-square foot 1930 school building (11825 New Kent Highway) for use as an upper level elementary school.

The renovation project scope includes gutting the existing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing system, as well as stabilizing the entire building, for an upper elementary school (serving grades 3-5).

According to County Attorney Michele Gowdy, Marengo's first bid did not meet certain safety requirements. The company submitted new information on Monday morning, which didn't give supervisors enough time to review it before the meeting that night.

On Dec. 9, Marengo Management Corporation President E. Taylor Moore, Jr. clarified several items in writing, including a proposed timeline of the project, set for completion on July 30, 2015.

With the new information in hand, Supervisors will meet on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to discuss and vote on Marengo's bid.

Marengo has been working on the historic high school project's first phases - site work and the 1950s south building -since November 2012, when the county entered into a $2.65 million contract with the company.

Although Marengo's bid has not been disclosed, Supervisors have approved a total of $8.5 million for the project, meaning that Marengo's bid cannot exceed $5.9 million.

Currently, the School Board is looking into other long and short-term cost-saving options for the county, including constructing wings to the two existing elementary schools.

"Two wing additions will provide critically needed space and reduce the operating budget impact," said School Finance Director Ralph Westbay last month.

According to Westbay, the cost savings of eliminating staff at the third upper level elementary school would "more than pay for one of the wings over the five-year period."

This is one of many options being reviewed by the School Board in an effort to be cost-effective and offset the growing student population.

"Given county growth, which is largely controlled by the Board of Supervisors, and the school planning, which should be controlled by School Boards, it becomes clear that the two boards must work together to solve issues associated with growth and aging buildings," said the New Kent County School Board in an ad published in the Tidewater Review.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.