Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 7, 2014

City ready to advertise for bids on new energy center

$8.5 million complex may open by mid-2015

Somerset —

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said this week construction bids for the city’s proposed energy center likely will be advertised by the end of this month.
An $8.5 million loan through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program has been approved for the unique energy center. However, the federal government shutdown last fall delayed for at least 60 days final go-ahead for the loan, and a “couple pages of corrections” had to be made.
Girdler obviously expects a green light for the loan to be given within days. He said there will be a 21-day bid advertising period and a construction contract could be let by the first of May.
Construction will take between 12 and 15 months, putting a completion date for the center in June or July 2015, the mayor said.
Main purpose of the center, designed by Brandstetter Carroll Inc., a Lexing-ton-based group of architects, engineers and planners, is to monitor the city’s vast natural gas pipeline network. The building’s four floors, including a basement, will house city hall offices and an emergency command center with police department space.
The 36,200 square-foot structure will be located on what is now a city parking lot. The area will be expanded by demolition of the former Meece Hardware building on the west side of the parking lot; the former city utilities building on the west side of College Street north of the parking lot; and the current city utilities building on the east side of College Street just north of Somerset City Hall. The existing city hall facing East Mt. Vernon Street will be torn down to make way for a parking lot.
The city originally planned to raze structures to make way for the energy center. However, Girdler said engineers have recommended that demolition of the structures be included in the contractor’s contract.

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