Ocean City Today
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Second faulty county facility linked to retired architect

Ocean Pines library, Wor. Rec center both have costly issues going out to bid soon
By Brian Gilliland | Apr 05, 2018

(April 6, 2018) Worcester County’s multipurpose fitness area at the Recreation Center in Snow Hill, completed in 2005, needs two new rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning units because of improper mechanical design at construction, Public Works Director John Tustin said to the county commissioners Tuesday.

This building was designed by the same architect responsible for the Ocean Pines Library, which itself has work going out to bid to correct roof leakage and to remove the four chimney stacks, along with other corrections.

The architect is no longer in business, Tustin said, so the county’s options for seeking recompense are limited.

Commissioner Ted Elder asked if any other existing county facilities were designed by the unidentified architect. Tustin said there was one more, with a constructibility issue on the roof. Constructibility is a project management term to review the building process from start to finish before construction begins.

Commissioner Chip Bertino, irked by the revelation, asked how the issues could be prevented in the future.

Tustin said, for his part, the public works department has taken an increased interest in the oversight and management of construction projects.

Tustin identified several problems with the building and the heating and cooling systems in the initial design.

First, he said the original design specified the cooling point be set at 80 degrees, but the space is currently being operated between 68-72 degrees. While noting that inadequate information about the space’s use could have been delivered to the engineer, it remains the current equipment can’t meet the demands and is being operated beyond capacity.

Next, the building’s humidity is being controlled by the rooftop units and not a dedicated dehumidifier, as would be standard in such a facility, Tustin said.

Also, the site’s carbon dioxide control does not meet current standards.

Tustin said it is unknown if the visitor loads, which can range from 10-12 walkers to more than 1,000 spectators at events like track meets, were taken into account during the initial design.

The rooftop units’ condenser coils have also been corroded, Tustin said. He explained there were two possible sources: salt air exposure or improper cleaning with caustic agents. Replacing these coils costs about half as much as new units, which was the impetus for the request to replace the entire system.

Finally, there are gaps in the building’s envelope, including the building’s overhead door and fire ventilation shutters, that allow cooled air to escape.

The commissioners approved the $5,500 fee for Gipe Associates of in Easton, Maryland to provide the required engineering evaluations for the repairs, and $200,000 in the assigned fund balance to pay for the repairs.

Bids on the Ocean Pines Library repairs will be accepted by the county until 1 p.m. on Monday, May 7.

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