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Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Added Costs for Crest Beach Patrol Building Increase to $170,000

Christopher South
The new look of the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol headquarters. Upgrades were needed to the old building, including more space for women’s locker rooms.

By Christopher South

WILDWOOD CREST – The Borough Commission has approved a fifth change order for renovation work on the beach patrol headquarters. The five change orders have added $170,089 to the cost of the project.

And Mayor Don Cabrera said that after talking to the contractor, Straga Brothers of Glassboro, and the municipal engineer, he anticipated two additional small change orders – one for electrical work and one for concrete work – but nothing more.

The project was awarded to Straga Brothers at a cost of $2,054,334. That cost has now increased to $2,224,423.

Cabrera said there have been concerns expressed about the additional charges and oversight of the project; however, he said, he did not want to delay its completion any further. “The borough is obligated to pass the resolution to keep the project going forward,” he said about the fifth change order.

That order, approved June 19 on a 2-1 vote, was for $14,185. Three previous change orders added $81,563, $58,878 and $15,462 to the total, while the fourth was for no money but for a time extension.

Deputy Mayor Joseph Franco initially declined to second the introduction of the resolution authorizing payment for the fifth change order; however, Cabrera said a second was necessary in order to have discussion. Franco, who eventually cast a no vote on the change order resolution, then agreed to second the resolution and said he had been made aware of the order just before the meeting.

He explained his no vote by saying he had been ignored on emails related to the project, including the change orders.

Beach patrol headquarters before renovations began in the fall 2023.

Cabrera said the municipal engineer is the project manager, and that he himself sits in on most projects. He said Commissioner Joseph Schiff has been working more closely with the engineer and the contractor due to his connection to the beach patrol and his position as director of public safety.

Speaking before the last commission meeting, Cabrera said he believed there were still change orders to be requested, and his concern was that if the orders weren’t approved the project might come to a standstill.

The work is already behind schedule, as the contract was awarded in January 2023 but demolition work to prep the existing building for rehabilitation did not start until after last summer. Cabrera said the borough had to rent some equipment for the beach patrol to use during the demolition, such as storage units, as the building couldn’t be used during the summer.

Last year the beach patrol operated inside the Nesbitt building, and from folding tables in a back room with a garage door.

Cabrera said this is not the first time the borough has rehabilitated an existing building.

“The Arts Pavilion was a preexisting building, and with this kind of project there will always be changes,” he said, while expressing concern over the rising cost. “We will try to mitigate the cost, but the project needs to get done.”

Once the work is completed, the beach patrol can move out of the Nesbitt building, which is just behind the patrol’s headquarters, and in 2025 the borough is scheduled to rehabilitate that building, Cabrera said, and consider leasing it to a private business.

The mayor said he hopes the beach patrol building will be ready by July 4.

Contact the reporter, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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