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Construction costs double for new public works facility in Ross Township

| Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The construction cost for a new public works facility for Ross Township has grown from a $4 million project to one that is expected to exceed $8 million.

Project architect David McLean of McLean Architects LLC presented plans, a timeline and a revised budget at the Aug. 18 Ross commissioners meeting for a new public works facility on Cemetery Lane.

Plans include a building that could house 35 township vehicles, a second building to provide 10,000 additional square feet of storage that would be split between the public-works department and the Ross Township Police Department, a new canopy for the fueling station and a new salt-storage facility.

At past meetings, public-works director Michael Funk described the current building, which is 50 years old and has major structural issues, as “not functional.”

McLean said the current salt storage building, like the public-works building, is “beyond its usable life” and only holds 2,500 tons of salt, which leads to “constant replenishing” for the township, which uses about 12,000 tons of salt each winter.

The new salt-storage building would hold 6,000 tons of salt.

Township manager Doug Sample said early estimates for the project budget were between $3.5 million and $4 million.

However, during architect interviews in March, McLean said that the budget would be the most challenging part of this project.

McLean now estimates the facility will cost about $8.5 million. Commissioner David Mikec said township officials are exploring borrowing options.

Sample said a bond firm would be needed to determine how much the debt would cost the township. He said he did not anticipate that a millage increase would be necessary.

“I am very concerned about the price,” Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer said.

“I am committed to looking at some creative alternatives that would meet the needs of the township and not add a burden to taxpayers.”

Though township officials considered a partial demolition and rehabilitation of the current building, McLean said it would not be cost-efficient.

Commissioners are expected to vote on the final plans in November. If approved, construction would begin in March, and McLean estimates the building would be complete by spring 2016.

McLean Architects LLC is based on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Commissioners were expected to further discuss this project at a meeting scheduled for Aug. 25, after this edition's deadline.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach her at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

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