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Aviano base library delayed after contractor defaults

The new library under construction at Aviano Air Base, Italy, was scheduled to open this spring. But after the Italian contractor fell behind schedule, a new contract will have to be awarded and the library is not likely to open now until the summer of 2016.

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Those hoping to use the new base library here might want to consider an additional tour in Italy.

After a series of delays, the $2.2 million facility on Area 1 was supposed to open this spring. But a revised timeline now calls for the facility to open in the summer of 2016.

The latest delay is due to the fact that Italian contractor for the project has defaulted, according to Mark Schlueter, deputy base civil engineer.

The revised timeline includes canceling the existing contract, advertising and awarding a new one and then completing construction. The facility, now due to open in the summer of 2016, was initially expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

It’s not the first time that a contractor has defaulted while working on a project at Aviano. The U.S. military is required to follow a series of regulations on any construction project that often give the contract to the lowest qualified bidder. At Aviano, this has sometimes resulted in a contractor’s submitting a bid it later judges too low to complete the project and then asking for more money. The military isn’t legally allowed to provide more money in such cases, Schlueter said.

MATI Sud SpA of Taranto, Italy, was awarded the contract to demolish the existing library and build a new two-story facility between the kindergarten and youth center and education center. The foundation and much of the exterior were completed, but the contractor failed to meet conditions set in the contract, Schlueter said.

The Italian court system will determine how much the contractor is still owed or how much the contractor will have to pay back, he said.

It’s possible the library might cost more than its current price tag, depending on the terms of the new contract.

A temporary library was set up in Area 2 before the old one was demolished. And unless the base can find a new temporary home for it on the flight line or Area 1, it could cost millions more. Pending other construction, the base hopes to close Area 2 by the end of the year and eventually turn it back to Italian authorities.

Officials estimate it costs millions of dollars in utilities, maintenance and personnel to maintain Area 2, and its planned closure is part of an ongoing Air Force initiative to reduce facilities and costs.

The library is one of the last projects of Aviano 2000, a $600 million-plus program launched in 1999 to turn a little-used base into the home of the 31st Fighter Wing. Much of the funding has come from NATO, and one of the numerous delays involved Spain putting a hold on funds until an unrelated matter was resolved.

harris.kent@stripes.com
 

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