City grants waiver for Barr Street project

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Jesef Williams
 The city of Lancaster has given a pass to one of its hospitality tax grant recipients.
City Council voted 6-0 at its Tuesday, Oct. 9, meeting to grant a waiver to Hope on the Hill, the group that is turning the gymnasium and auditorium at the old Barr Street school into a community center.
Councilwoman Tamara Green Garris was absent Tuesday.
In June, City Council voted to award Hope on the Hill $200,000 and the Olde Presbyterian Church $100,000 – allocations to come from the city’s hospitality funds.
The $200,000 work on heating and air and restroom upgrades.
As part of the June vote, the two groups have to follow the city’s procurement policy, which requires that purchases exceeding $10,000 be bought through “competitive sealed bids.”
Last month, the city received a note from DC Development and Construction LLC requesting a reimbursement of $86,692. Of that total, the portions of concern are $3,451 for items to build a restroom and $15,831, which goes toward contractor’s fees, insurance, labor and tools, among other expenses.
That portion of the project had not been competitively bid, said City Administrator Helen Sowell.
Charlene McGriff, on behalf of Hope on the Hill board, told council and city staff that the group wasn’t aware of the policy.
“We truly were surprised that they had not followed the purchasing policy the city has laid out,” Sowell said Tuesday.
After council voted to grant the waiver, Mayor Joe Shaw again shared his wish to see other entities in the county contribute significant funding toward the Barr Street project.
“I say we all do it together and share some of the responsibility,” he said.
McGriff repeatedly expressed gratitude for the city’s contribution.
“In order to get it done, we got to take baby steps,” McGriff said. “We’re just thankful the city is helping us move forward.”

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Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152