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Project planned for rebidding

By AMANDA HARRISON

Staff writer

After 23 years, a master plan and an excess of $750,000 raised, the process for renovations to the Calvert Marine Museum’s Exhibition Building has been delayed.

According to Doug Alves, the director of the museum, the five bids received for the project “all came in higher than the dollars we have.” Thus, the project is planned for rebidding in the spring.

“It’s disappointing. It looks like the project is going to be later rather than sooner,” Alves said.

He said staff is recommending that the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners reject all five bids, but there is nothing official from the county yet.

The plans called for work to begin in January and February of 2013 and be completed by April 2013, but because the rebidding is delayed, museum officials will have to determine when the work can be done so as not to disrupt normal museum function.

“We were considering closing the museum for those two months,” Alves said. “But if we have to rebid in the spring, we wouldn’t want the work to be going on during the summer months, which is the height of our season.

“We’re not going outside of the existing footprint,” he said, adding that the renovations mainly include upgrades to the lobby and auditorium.

The plan, Alves said, is to remove the seats in the auditorium and level the floor to allow for more and various uses of the space, such as workshops, demonstrations and exhibits.

The space behind the current stage would be turned into a catering kitchen, he said, and the wall separating the lobby from the auditorium will be removed and replaced with a wall that can open.

“It’s a beautiful space, but we only use it 50 days out of the year,” Alves said of the auditorium. “That’s 2,300 square feet of space sitting empty for most of the year.”

Additional renovations include the creation of a new 20-seat orientation theater in the lobby and expanding the museum store, according to a May press release from the museum.

The release states that the expansion of the mezzanine level will create three classrooms, and one will serve as a distance learning studio and a science and technology lab.

Alves said the “initial thought” was to reject the received bids and rebid the project, but after speaking with the architect for the renovations, the reason the bids were so high was because of the infrastructure, “not from the nature of the work itself.”

He said that since the building is 23 years old, “once we open the walls and remove floors, you have to upgrade the electrical, you have to upgrade the HVAC system” — things, he said, that “weren’t accounted for when we did the initial plans.”

In October 2011, the Calvert Marine Museum Society Board of Directors launched the “Coming of Age Capital Campaign” to raise money for the Exhibition Building renovations to aid the proposed $2 million cost of the project.

In September 2011, the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners told museum officials not to hold out on county money for the museum’s capital improvement project.

The museum was requesting $1.75 million for the construction in the county’s fiscal 2013 CIP budget.

According to the adopted fiscal 2013 budget, the museum was granted $750,000 in government bonds and $250,000 in other grant funding for the project — there was no county funding.

Alves said the delay in the bidding process allows time for more fundraising.

aharrison@somdnews.com

Staff writer Joe Norris contributed to this report.