Friday, March 13, 2009

CC: A $32,000 'ounce of precaution'!

At Thursday's Lancaster County Convention Center Authority (LCCCA) Board Meeting, the Capital Budget was strategically increased by $32,040.00 to obtain a third-party assessment of the Hotel and Convention Center’s critical life safety systems (Fire Protection, Fire Alarm, and Smoke Exhaust among others.)

As Kevin Molloy, Executive Director of the LCCCA, explained, "We have contractors who are finishing these systems. They are not ready to be turned on right now; and simultaneously, we want someone to review this … [and] say 'we're ready.'" The goal is to avoid wasted time and expense in the form of system glitches down the road.

The third party engineers review plans, inspect installations, and are present when the systems are initially put into operations. The firm chosen is especially experienced with the higher than normal standards required by the Marriott Corporation.

Molloy recounted a consulting session held with a highly-experienced developer. After initially recommending a third-party assessment, the developer had told Molloy, "This is your insurance policy. Because if you don't turn it on, some of those challenges can take a week, two weeks, a month, or a couple of months, and you wouldn’t want it."

When an element of the life safety systems malfunctions during the formal inspection by authorities, a delay in making repairs and obtaining another inspection can prevent the entire project from starting business for days and even weeks, thus costing tens of thousands of dollars and possibly forcing last minute cancellations.

Vice Chair Laura Douglas commented that such precautions will also be valuable in maintaining repeat visitors to the center: "It's the critical path to having a second chance of getting business; because if you blow it the first time out, then they’ll never come back."