The Peters Township Aquatics Center project requires a substantial amount of earthwork and paving.

Peters Township officials are working toward the goal of opening a public aquatics center within the new Rolling Hills Park in May 2022.

Construction has begun on the first phase of the park, located on half of the former Rolling Hills Country Club property, by general contractor A. Liberoni Inc. of Plum Borough.

To help facilitate the progress of the aquatics center, a separate project from the park, township council members have agreed to allow for a change order in Liberoni’s contract that would permit the firm to conduct grading, earth moving, paving and similar tasks for both projects.

“If we’re going to move ahead with the construction of the aquatics center, utilizing Liberoni will eliminate any confusion of coordinating the work of two site contractors,” township manager Paul Lauer said at Monday’s council meeting. “Furthermore, advancing the site work now improves the chances of completing the aquatics center on time.”

Council also voted to authorize the pre-qualification of general contractors for the aquatics center project, a measure to ensure that firms submitting bids have proven track records of undertaking jobs of such a scope.

Voting against was council member Monica Merrell, who has opposed the timeline associated with the project.

“I’m not against a pool,” she said. “I just don’t think escalating it to having it done right away is necessarily the right order of priority.”

The cost estimate for a complex full of water features is in the neighborhood of $10.5 million, although Lauer said design services contractor Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site’s estimates at this point are ranging from $10.2 million to $11.4 million.

“What they have heard loud and clear is, we can’t be anywhere near 11.4,” Lauer told council. “I think that becomes a problem for the project.”

He has negotiated with Kimmel Bogrette representatives for the firm to drop its fee to 7% of the estimated cost of construction, as opposed to 7.25%.

In the event of a $10.5 million construction contract, Kimmel Bogrette would be paid $735,000.

As for Liberoni taking on additional work for the aquatics center project, Lauer estimated the cost as “probably in vicinity of $500,000.”

“Whether the township chooses to move ahead with the aquatics center now or later, the site plan currently being developed will likely not substantially change,” he said. “And completing the bulk excavation now will mitigate the need for extensive grading in the future.”

Mark Zemaitis, township director of engineering, further discussed the advantages.

“As the aquatics center moves forward and we’re trying to hit the Memorial Day 2022 date, that’s extremely aggressive,” he said. “I think one of the only ways to give ourselves a better change to hit that is to do this earthwork under Liberoni’s contract.”

Including the work in a separate contract for the aquatics center would cause a delay.

“At the soonest, the general contractor would get out there in June to start doing site prep and moving dirt,” Zemaitis told council. “Under a Liberoni scenario, you could start moving dirt, potentially, by Tax Day. So you get a two-month head start on the dirt work, which I think would be critical to hit the schedule.”

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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