Pocopson rejects Barnard House bids

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Future of renovation project now unclear

By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, The Times

The future of Pocopson’s Barnard House is up in the air, after township supervisors voted Monday to reject bids for renovation of the building, slated to become the new township building and home of the Kennet Underground Railroad.

POCOPSON — Amid a barrage of questions, comments and concerns by township residents, township officials rejected bids for the renovation of the Barnard House at Monday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

For years, township officials have been discussing plans to renovate the historic building for use as township offices and the Kennett Underground Railroad.

In August, the project was bid under four separate packages and collectively, the bids came back, according to Board of Supervisors’ Chair, Steve Conary, much higher than expected at $1.02 million.

Supervisors stated at several board meetings that they were unwilling to spend that much on the project and met with the low bidders to see where changes could be made to lower costs.

Conary said the meeting produced an outcome which shaved off about $100,000, not enough to bring the price to within the $750,000-$800,000 proposed budget. After listening to residents’ concerns, Supervisors voted to reject the bids and send the project back to the Barnard House Steering Committee.

Several residents questioned published comments quoting officials as saying – if the township took out a loan for the renovation of the structure, the yearly payment would be around $46,000, roughly the same amount as the $50,000 the township is budgeting  per year to maintain the building in its unusable shape.

Conary told residents, “although the township spent about $50,000 last year for structural repairs and close to that amount this year on engineering and design work to prepare the bid package, we haven’t spent anything significant that I can think of on maintenance this year; the idea that we are going to spend $50,000 a year on maintenance is a misunderstanding.”

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