Public restrooms at the Island Inn on Lighthouse Road will not be built this year; maybe over the winter. Photo: C. Leinbach

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By Connie Leinbach

After initially proposing that more public restrooms would be built on Ocracoke by July, that hope has faded for this year as the Ocracoke Preservation Society did not receive any acceptable bids for the project.

The nonprofit organization is still looking for a contractor for this project at the Island Inn and has dropped the formal bidding process.

After the OPS board recently opened two sealed bids, the bids were more than twice the society’s budget for the project, said Ken DeBarth, OPS president.  Bids by off-island contractors reflected the added cost of paying travel and lodging costs, he said.

And all of the building contractors on Ocracoke are busy this season.

DeBarth and Tom Pahl, who is Ocracoke’s county commissioner and the project manager, both said in a press release that they had spoken to local contractors.

“And the fact that we didn’t get any bids from on-island contractors reflects how busy all of the builders on the island are right now,” Pahl said.

Instead, Pahl will talk to local contractors to find one who will be able to offer the best combination of cost and a schedule that adapts to the busy construction economy. 

“Even if we can’t start construction until winter,” DeBarth said, “we plan to go ahead with the project. We want (contractors) to come and negotiate with us.”

Any licensed N.C. Building Contractor (on island or off) who is interested in the project should contact OPS at 252-928-7375, or Pahl at 860-933-0259.

The vision for the iconic property, which the OPS purchased in May 2018 for $790,000, includes retaining and renovating the original two-story, wood-frame structure (the former Odd Fellow’s Lodge built in 1901, pictured above), adding public restrooms and retaining some green space.  The two deteriorated wings were demolished last year.  The group will spread the pile of cement rubble under and around the building after it has been raised up several feet.

But the OPS must find funding for each phase of this multiyear project.

In January, the OPS solicited bids for a project manager, which would include preparing, reviewing, and revising design draft building plans; preparing a construction estimate; overseeing construction bidding; collecting contractor bids; overseeing instillation of septic system, overseeing inspections of building, plumbing, electrical systems; representing OPS at meetings regarding, funding, ongoing, maintenance and operation of the restrooms.

Two bids were received.

At its February meeting, the OPS executive board awarded the project manager contract to the low bidder, Tom Pahl of Landmark Construction, at the rate of $25 per hour not to exceed 140 hours—a total expenditure of up to but not more than $3,500.

“Pahl’s bid rate was significantly lower than the other received and a bargain considering the required skill set needed to complete the job,” DeBarth said.


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