Milestone Construction Services Inc. of Sterling, Va., a contractor renovating the Olney Library, recently informed the county it is ending its business operations throughout the region.
However, a company executive said the company intends to finish the project.
Officials expect the project to be delayed, though.
“Milestone will be completing the Olney Library project and is looking forward to returning an improved library to the community,” the company’s executive vice president, Bill Colonna, wrote in an email to The Gazette on Monday.
While Milestone appears optimistic, the county is exploring a variety of options.
In its contracts, Montgomery County requires a 100 percent performance bond to protect itself in case of a business disruption such as this one, so projects will be completed at no additional cost to the county.
David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, said the county has worked with Milestone before and it has been a good contractor, but the company is in an unfortunate situation.
To safeguard the interests of Montgomery County residents and bondholders, Dise said, the county already has met with the surety company.
If necessary, the surety company will bring in another contractor to perform the balance of the work at no additional cost to the county, Dise. The project is about 60 percent complete.
“The surety [company] just learned what is going on about two weeks ago, so they have requested the opportunity to interview subcontractors and come back to meet with us in two weeks to discuss the recommended course of action,” Dise said.
A meeting is scheduled for July 18.
He said that in the meantime, the surety company has begun to pay the subcontractors to get them back working on the project full force.
County Executive Isiah Leggett sent a letter to Greater Olney Civic Association President Barbara Falcigno on Wednesday to update her on the situation. Leggett acknowledged that there might be a delay.
“On this note, I want to personally assure you that the County will work closely with the bonding company to assure that the library project continues to move forward in as timely a manner as possible,” Leggett wrote.
Leggett said the bonding company will meet with the subcontractors to assure them they will be paid, and Milestone will prepare a revised project schedule for the work. These measures will ensure that the work continues and avoid a potential shutdown if the bond is called.
“As the work progresses, we will keep Olney residents fully informed,” Leggett wrote. “Like you, I look forward to the day when we can stand together and celebrate the opening of the new and improved Olney Library building.”
Leggett confirmed that Dise would attend the GOCA meeting on Tuesday to answer questions from the community. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Room of the Buffington Re/Max Realty Centre, 3300 Olney-Sandy Spring Road.
Earlier this week, Dise confirmed that this setback would undoubtedly delay the project “at least a couple of months,” although he said they are still hopeful that the Olney Library would reopen by the end of this year.
Milestone is also the contractor for the Wheaton Rescue Squad building, currently under construction.
“The county is not the contracting authority on that project; it is being led by the Wheaton volunteers,” Dise said. “We are just providing support and assistance in the process, but we have been in communication with the Wheaton volunteers about this.”
The Olney Library closed in December 2010 after staff funding was eliminated as of January 2011, in anticipation of construction. Permitting delays caused the library to sit empty and untouched for more than a year, until construction finally began in the spring of 2012.
Last month, Olney Library manager Joseph Eagan said construction was on track to be completed by this fall, with the facility opening six to eight weeks later.
The latest news of the delay disappointed some in the community.
“I hope that this latest bump in the road causes a minimal delay and the library can open as close to the scheduled time as possible,” Falcigno said.
“This is an unfortunate setback,” agreed Art Brodsky, an Olney resident and member of the Montgomery County Library Board. “We are all looking forward to having a brand new library opening later this year, and it still might happen. Unfortunately, this is not something you can prepare for.”
The Olney-Brookeville Exchange listserv was buzzing at the news of another delay. People who posted on the listserv suggested not voting for incumbents during the next election, and staging a “read-in” outside Leggett’s office.
Others recounted the library’s groundbreaking ceremony, when Leggett promised the crowd that the project would be done on time.
The Olney library, on a 2.5-acre plot near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Olney-Laytonsville Road, was built in 1981.
The nearly $13 million project will expand the building from 16,825 square feet to 22,574 square feet, and also will include a complete renovation of the interior, with additional space added to the perimeter. The energy-efficient facility will have increased seating, an enlarged children’s area, a separate teen area, program rooms, meeting areas, quiet and group study rooms, and new furnishings.