School renovation project seems poorly planned

It was learned this past week that the Hamilton-Holmes Middle School renovation project took yet another costly turn, having learned the building now needs a new roof. This comes on top of other revelations since the project begun, including moving underground utilities and the removal of asbestos.

Anyone attending the Board of Supervisors meeting some 18-20 months back when the president of the architectural firm made a Powerpoint presentation to the board, and then thanked a variety of county and school officials for their hard work and support during the five years they have been working on this renovation projects planning, must be scratching their heads in a state of bewilderment .

Just what were they doing during those five years? How is it that after the project had been approved, after a budget had been set, that they are just now finding the rather glaring deficiencies in the state of the existing structure? What $12 million project is approved or begun with such a lack of understanding of what shape the building is in before contracts are approved or a green light is given? Can you imagine having a contractor begin agreed-upon work on your home and then come back with news of this nature?

Citizens of King William are now being informed that up to an additional $700,000 may be required, along with another $100,000 for consulting fees. One could easily have detected something very odd was going on the night of the Powerpoint presentation when Supervisor Bob Ehrhart asked the simple question: “Is there asbestos in the building that is going to need to be removed?” And the astounding response was, “We don’t know.”

It again begs the question: What were they doing for five years?

Citizens want good schools, but this is a classic case of contracting being done by a group of people in county government who have no private sector experience in matters of this sort.

Any feature in this project that is largely aesthetic in nature should be removed given the current cost overruns. Faculty and students should be in a building that is safe and comfortable. That said, any public building constructed using taxpayer money should be constructed with safety, comfort qualities and cost containment as the only considerations.

If you want to work in some fancy digs, go apply for a job at the Bull & Bear club.

No one would spend their own money in this absurd, reckless fashion.

Bob Shannon

King William County

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