Lodge repairs in limbo

Published 4:30 pm Sunday, January 2, 2011

Contributing Writer

A long-standing effort to restore a local historic structure is in limbo.
State Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, addressed a letter to Gov. Beverly Perdue and members of the Council of State on Dec. 23 urging the approval of additional funds to restore the Lake Mattamuskeet Lodge.
Basnight had worked with U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., to pass a bill in 2006 to restore the lodge.
Catherine M. Fodor, Jones’ communications director, released a statement from Jones on the status of the lodge on Dec. 7. The most relevant portion of the statement reads, “As far as Congressman Jones understands it, progress continues to be made, but the project remains under state jurisdiction.”
Marty B. Moser, vice president of Barnhill Contracting Co.’s building division, explained how his company became involved with the project.
“We were hired for preconstruction in January 2008,” Moser said. “We were hired based on qualifications. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the State Construction Office issued a request for qualifications and a number of firms responded. They short-listed down to four firms and did interviews where they met the staff and (personnel). They then ranked the firms and we were ranked first. From there we negotiated fees on the job.”
Moser mentioned that the State Construction Office issued a letter to all four firms competing on the project explaining how the ranking process worked. He mentioned that the names of the other three companies considered for the project are a matter of public record.
Barnhill has been involved in similar projects where it was ranked and chosen based on qualifications.
Barnhill was hired to provide professional services during the design of the project. The firm worked for six months before actual construction started.
Moser described the specifics of Barnhill’s work.
“We are working as a team member, but directly for the owner,” he said. “We provide constructability review. We look at means and methods of construction. We are doing budgeting at each stage of the design so there is a total project cost. We also provide a probable schedule for the project. We also give advice on material selections, and help during the design process.”
Moser also said that $3.5 million to $4 million is needed to complete the project.
“That’s if they get the (money) that is currently budgeted right now for this year,” he added.
Moser mentioned that the State Construction Office and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission are in charge of the budgeting for the project.
The amount of Barnhill employees working on the project has shifted over time, depending on the amount of work. When the project is fully funded, Barnhill has had between four to five employees on site. Currently, two to three employees are on the site due to funding constraints.
Moser noted that the State Construction Office, the North Carolina Division of Cultural Resources and the architect see documentation and reporting of the progress of the project.
Moser said that $4.3 million had been spent so far on the project.
Mark Williard of Williard Ferm Architects offered some more information on the project.
Williard’s role was to design improvements and administer the construction phase of the project.
Williard said the timeline of repairing the lodge has been faced with problems.
“Each budget cycle seems to be funded by legislative action,” he said. “But once it gets to government entities, the funds get taken back again. For example last year, a budget of ($7 million) was approved to completely finish the project. But by November, the funds had dwindled and frozen, and only $3.3. million was approved. We are expecting that $3.3 million to be available by the end of this month. But that money can be frozen again before it is released for construction. When the budget is on, people are working on it. What could have been a one-year construction project has stretched out to more than two years. It will ongoing for another year provided the budget comes through.”
The $3.3 million will repair the roof and observation tower. Additional work is needed to complete the interior.