Council to award pool bids

By on August 3, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

With 34 days to go until construction is set to begin, Ephrata Borough Council is preparing to award bids to two different contractors to undertake the project of renovating and updating the Ephrata Community Pool complex.

Community Services Committee Chairman Tom Reinhold told council at Monday night’s work session that the general contractor bid would be awarded to a local firm, Balton Construction of Ephrata in the amount of $909,000. The contract for aquatic construction on the project will be awarded to Stone Ridge, Inc. of Feasterville in the amount of $1,129,000.

Council will be asked to vote on the committee recommendation at next Monday night’s regular session of borough council. Representatives from the firm acting as project engineer, Wade Associates, will be on hand for Monday night’s vote.

Both firms come highly recommended. Wade Associates has worked with Stone Ridge several times before with positive outcomes. Reinhold said Balton Construction had a good reputation for hard work, quality craftsmanship and for completing projects on time and on budget.

"When we first got this info, I researched each of the bidding firms on my own," concurred council member Susan Rowe. "I did so without regard to their bid amounts. On the basis of my research alone, both Balton Construction and Stone Ridge, Inc. stood out as firms the borough would want to do business with."

Reinhold noted that with council’s approval the project will remain on target for starting the day after Labor Day when the 2011 swimming season comes to a close. He added that the entire projected will be funded through cash on hand through the borough’s capital reserve fund.

Included in the project will be splash features, climbing walls and winterization covers, as well as mechanical upgrades to the electrical, pumping and filtration systems. The bath houses will be renovated and brought up to ADA compliance. Complete drawings are on display at borough hall and the pool.

Plans posted at the pool have drawn a good bit of interest from patrons, whom, Reinhold said are overall excited about the upcoming improvements.

"The buzz around the pool is positive," noted Reinhold, who visited several times over the weekend with his family. "We were trying to look at everything. People seem to realize we are moving forward and this is where we are at. I think they also recognize the amount of compromise that has gone into this."

Reinhold also pointed out how hard borough council worked to do what is best for the pool and the community.

Many of Reinhold’s colleagues on the council offered words of high praise and congratulation for his leadership through the difficult period of finalizing plans for the project.

"I thank Tom for his leadership on this issue, said council member Dale Hertzog. "He has lead us through some very difficult times. In the end, this is a very nice, very affordable project that will change the landscape down there."

Vic Richard was similarly congratulatory.

"In reality, the public has shown a lot of positive interest in the pool project," he said. "It’s all very amazing. I’m sure there will be a lot of people going by to check out construction over the next several months."

Councilman Bob Good reminded council of the relatively short time Reinhold has been on council in adding his kudos to the chorus of praise.

"In all the accolades you are receiving, and rightfully so," said Good. "What a compromising situation to be a new member of council and take on that project. It was not easy. This council can be confusing and there is so much to learn about the intricacies about how the borough operates, then to throw something as big and complex as a five year process to come up with a process for a viable swimming pool. You have done absolutely superbly."

Good also congratulated the long list of others who had come together to bring things to this point, from Rec Center director David Lloyd to acting borough manager Bob Thompson, to countless citizens who had attended the meetings, offered insight and helped provide direction.

And from Councilman Russell Shirker:

"Think of all the negative things you had to go through, but now it’s time to put this behind us and we will have a nice structure. It will be great. Tom, thank you again."

Council members were also very congratulatory of George DiIlio, who was recently appointed to serve on the Shade Tree Commission. It was pointed out that thanks to his efforts there appears to be some new vitality on the commission. DiIllio noted that there would be a Tree Tenders Group training session held in Denver Sept. 16 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. He said he had at least one person from DEI interested in attending. DiIlio said he plans to scout out additional information and participants in hopes of fostering a similar group within the borough.

In other borough council business, the Budget and Finance Committee will ask the full council to approve hiring Human Resources Management Associates (or HRMA) to conduct a search for a human resources manager for the borough. At a cost not to exceed $20,000, HRMA will conduct all activities necessary for the screening, testing and selection of the ideal candidate for the position.

Also related to hiring, Police Chief William Harvey discussed the borough’s process of hiring and promoting police officers within the local force. He indicated that the Civil Service Commission would be meeting on Tuesday evening, Aug. 2, to enact the new rules which would bring the borough’s practices up to compliance with other municipalities.

According to Harvey, currently three police positions remain vacant, with a fourth due by the end of the year due to an anticipated retirement. He reminded council that whether one officer or four are hired, the screening process was already budgeted in fiscal 2011. At the earliest, an officer could be seated in January once council gives the commission a green light on the process. However, he said, even that would require a rather aggressive effort in order to fill a position by January. Borough administrator Gale Bare, along with Lt. Thomas Shumaker, would then begin to look at a number of scenarios to help narrow down just how many officers should be hired and whether once or two sergeants would need to be promoted. Currently the force is working through the reduced head count through overtime.

And finally, Dr. William Ives, MD of Ephrata will be named to the Civil Service Commission. He has 16 years of experience in the military and over 26 years of service as a local surgeon. He will be formally voted into the position at Monday night’s regular council session. More POOL, page A4

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