Frederick County and the builder of the county's new $9.2 million courthouse--the first new structure to be built in the city's Civil War-vintage downtown in years--have filed claims against each other. The county charges the courthouse was poorly built, while the contractor alleges the county delayed construction.
The county, which has filed a $750,000 claim against the Cam Construction Co. of Cockeysville, Md., is presenting its case in closed hearings before a three-member panel of the American Arbitration Association. Cam Construction has filed a $2.2 million claim against the county.
County Comptroller Thomas M. Fox said that when county officials toured the new building they discovered a leaking roof had knocked out the air-conditioning system. The basement and some of the walls were badly mildewed, he said, and the fire alarm and security systems were not working properly.
In addition, he said, the structure had been completed a year later than promised because the company had not assigned enough workers to the job.
When county inspectors first toured the building a year ago, they compiled a 40-page list of problems, Fox said. The inspectors found doors that wouldn't close, light switches that didn't work and windows shimmed with cardboard, Fox said.
Cam was removed from the project last August, and the county moved offices into the building in September.Among the building's occupants are the state attorney's offices, the county sheriff's office, the city police and the circuit court.
Fox said the construction company hired to finish the job found additional structural problems.
William M. Huddles, attorney for Cam Construction, said it would be "inappropriate to discuss the case" while it is in arbitration.
But a source familiar with the case said Cam officials contend they were delayed 17 months--at an additional cost of $1.6 million--because county inspectors and the architect failed to agree on solutions when the problems originally cropped up.
For example, the source said, concrete foundation pilings had to be poured because soil conditions were too poor, but county building personnel couldn't decide how to do it.
Preservation of the Hansen-Thomas house, which is incorporated into the new structure, also was delayed while county officials argued about what kind of brick to use and how to attach the old building. Part of the old building eventually had to be torn down because that structure was so weak.
Frederick is a small city of quaint brick houses--some of which date back to 1800--and the three-story courthouse is the only modern-style building that city officials have allowed the county to build in recent years. The mayor, Ronald Young, was a supporter of the project.
Frederick County is withholding the remaining $400,000 it owes Cam. County officials said they have asked the state, which paid 41 percent of the complex's cost, to aid them with legal expenses, expected to exceed $100,000.