$10.3M Community Center Contract Recommended with 1 Vote

The Board of Supervisors’ finance committee last week made the extremely unusual step of passing a motion with a single vote, recommending—technically—spending $10.3 million for renovations at the Sterling

Community Center.

The center’s extensive renovation plans include raising the split-level building to a single level along with expanding the gymnasium up and out, as well as a new lobby, teen recreation area, gym, fitness room, computer room, kitchen, classrooms, administrative space, and art room. The work also involves exterior and roofing work along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing work and geothermal wells.

Supervisors were hesitant to award the contract to the lowest bidder, Forrester Construction Company, but noted that state procurement law requires them to award the contract to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. Supervisors passed that recommendation to the board of supervisors with only one affirmative vote—Supervisor Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling)—three abstentions, and one absence. The board’s rules of order only require a majority of those members present and voting to pass a motion, and members who abstain count toward quorum but are not considered to be voting.

However, when the full board votes on the contract, some of those members may have to swallow their objections or speak up—the board’s rules of order note that “any vote to appropriate funds requires a majority of the full membership of the Board for approval, not simply a majority of Members present.”

Saines declined to comment on why, specifically, supervisors were wary of the contract award. However, the county has a history with Forrester, which also won the contract for work on the Dulles South Recreation and Senior Center. That project faced repeated delays after problems with the building’s mechanical and electrical systems, and problems with the pool filters.

Saines said during the meeting he will be looking for “very good oversight from the county in regards to this project. I will definitely be looking for updates very frequently on the program.”

The company also has a checkered past—its founder, Rick Forrester, committed suicide in 2014 amid a federal fraud investigation, and then-president David Forrester and his brother Scott stepped down from managing the company’s day-to-day operations. The company would go on to pay a $2 million settlement with federal prosecutors. The company today has a new leadership team.

In its annual legislative program, the county has asked the state for more leeway in the way localities choose contractors.