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Phase 2 of Courthouse Renovations Moving Forward

by on November 13, 2019 1:28 PM

The second and final planned phase of renovations to the more than 200 year old Centre County Courthouse will begin soon.

Centre County commissioners on Tuesday voted to move to next week's consent agenda three contracts for the project totaling $1.26 million.

Work will involve the addition of a 400-square-foot security vestibule to the rear fourth-floor entrance, renovations and reconfiguration of the second and third floor and installation of a new sprinkler and fire alarm system. Last year, first floor offices were renovated and over the summer and fall a new HVAC system and energy-efficiency features were installed.

For the second phase, J.C. Orr & Son was selected as general contractor with a contract for $644,698. That includes a $6,000 tap fee for the waterline on Allegheny Street and $250 per cubic square foot for excavation to connect the line to the courthouse for the sprinkler system.

Joseph C. Hazel Inc. will perform plumbing and fire protection system installation with a contract of $422,634, a figure higher than when the county opened bids in October. Jacobs said the added expense includes $14,996 for an additional standpipe that is required by code and $19,400 for a nitrogen generator.

The nitrogen generator, Jacobs said will be used for the pressurized sprinkler pipes above courtroom 1 in the most historic part of the courthouse.

"We don’t want to leave water in those pipes for obvious reasons," he said. "So this nitrogen generator will prolong and prevent corrosion within those pressurized fire lines."

Over the summer, the commissioners decided to explore adding the sprinkler system to the renovation project. Commissioners said at the time that they believed it was worthwhile to do now while other major renovations already were happening to ensure protection of the courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places .

“If we lost that building, the keystone and a centerpiece of Bellefonte would be lost," Commissioner Steve Dershem said in September.

The third contract is for Stelco, Inc. to provide electrical services for $192,705.

Jacobs said that architectural firm Weber Murphy Fox will have a project manager monitor the work daily and will hold weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings. But Dershem said he would like to meet with the firm before work begins to understand how the project will be managed and if additional oversight services will be needed.

"This is going to be a complicated project and my fear is that we have a lot of change orders," Dershem said. "I think it’s worth our time to be proactive in looking at opportunities to avoid that."

Jacobs said work is expected to begin late this month or in December, starting with the security vestibule. Anticipated completion for all of the renovations is April 2020.

Commissioner Mark Higgins added that he is glad to see the overall renovations continuing to move forward.

"I’m pleased to see this major investment in the Centre County Courthouse, the oldest continuously operating courthouse in the state, and also pleasantly surprised that putting in the fire sprinkler system with the addition of the nitrogen generator [is] only $305,000," Higgins said. "The building is obviously worth millions, a major tourism draw… We need that building. We need it to stay here and I’m glad to see we’re making that investment in the fire sprinkler system."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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