County municipal authority hires architect for new sewer headquarters in New Stanton
Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County board members on Wednesday hired an architect to design a new administrative and storage facility for the utility’s sewer operation, a move criticized by a former county controller for not seeking alternate proposals.
The $225,000 contract was awarded to DLA+ Architecture to design and develop construction documents for the planned 35,000-square-foot office complex and garage expected to be built on the authority’s New Stanton campus.
“Requests for proposals should be put out, and we should establish in the future a policy for proposals,” said board member Carmen Pedicone, who served two terms as county controller before being voted out of office in 2011.
He cast the lone vote against the architectural contract, which authority administrators and other members of the board defended.
“This isn’t really a bad deal,” said board member Jawdat Nikoula.
The architectural work is considered a professional services contract and is not subject to standard rules that require competitive bidding for some government work. Authority officials said the firm was first retained last year to craft a feasibility study for the proposed office building.
Brian Hohman, the authority’s business manager, said the contract will cost 5.7 percent of the overall construction project, below standard averages fees to architectural firms and will be paid out in a lump sum. Construction is expected to cost about $3.9 million.
The authority’s board last year approved $1.7 million to clear a 35-acre site on the utility’s property for the building that is expected to serve as the headquarters for its sewer business, which has more than 26,000 customers. Hohman said about 50 employees will work in the new building, which will also include a large garage to house equipment and vehicles.
Water operations will continue to operate from the authority’s existing administrative office on the same New Stanton property. The authority has more than 120,000 water customers in five counties and services about 400,000 residents.
The authority’s sewer operations operate throughout the same service area with a concentration of staff stationed at the former Hempfield Area Municipal Authority office building. As part of the $88 million deal finalized in 2016 to purchase the Hempfield sewer system, the county authority agreed to vacate the township building by July 2021.
Hohman said construction of the authority’s sewer headquarters could be complete by next summer.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .