Minister Burch On Infrastructure Improvements

November 1, 2019 | 10 Comments

“The Ministry is in the advanced stage of a Public Private partnership to build a brand new building to house the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre,” Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [Nov 1], the Minister provided an overview of infrastructure projects including planned work on bridges as well as the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Center – formerly the Allenhurst Building.

Minister Burch said, “One of the initiatives of this Ministry is the reuse of vacant Government buildings when it is financially prudent to do so. This building has been vacant since 2011 when the Police station moved to its current location at the Dame Lois Browne Evans Building.

“Allenhurst was originally built as a hotel and was purchased by the Bermuda Government in the 1920’s for government offices on the ground floor – and Police Barracks on the upper floors. Subsequent to that, the building underwent major refurbishments in the 1970’s to convert it to the Hamilton Police Station when the cell block was added.

“In the 2018 Speech from the Throne it was announced that this would be the direction of this Government and that the Building would be re-named the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre in honour of this most distinguished Bermudian.

“The plan was to renovate the original structure and add onto the building to accommodate the addition of elevators. The building was gutted earlier this year and a structural survey was carried out on the integrity of the building by Engineers this past September.

“That survey revealed that there had been significant deterioration and structural cracks to the external walls. It was also found that the water tank and electrical main supply is shared with the adjoining Valerie T Scott building – currently occupied by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“In light of the current state of both buildings, it is now not economical to refurbish either building and the engineers within the Ministry have recommended it would be expedient to demolish them both to make way for the new Arbitration Centre.

“An application for a demolition permit has been submitted, with the plan to complete the demolition works expeditiously. The ICO office, as soon as practicable, will be relocated to allow the demolition to occur.

“In 2002 the building was named after the first Bermudian Registrar General, Mrs. Valerie T. Scott. I can advise that her family have been advised of this plan and informed that government will find another suitable means of honouring her service to Bermuda.

“The Ministry is in the advanced stage of a Public Private partnership to build a brand new building to house the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre on both lots and I shall report further on progress as I am able.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good Morning, Mr. Speaker,

I wish to report this morning on a few infrastructure projects that are currently in train.

Mr. Speaker, I have previously reported to this House on the importance of infrastructure in general, and bridges in particular. Our bridges play a vital role in social development and economic growth for all Bermudians.

Our engineers regularly inspect and repair our bridges to ensure safety and infrastructure integrity, but no structure is impervious to the ravages of time, particularly in our harsh Atlantic environment. The Swing Bridge, connecting St. David’s Island to St. Georges Island, and Longbird Bridge, connecting the mainland to St. David’s Island are two examples and both are due for replacement. In fact the RFI for that project ends this afternoon and we look forward to discussing those responses.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of Longbird Bridge – it was condemned in 2007. Two single spans of Bailey bridge were built to divert traffic coming from the west and the LF Wade International Airport as a temporary solution. An action plan was developed and executed, and we are nearing the time when construction can begin on a replacement. However, before this can happen, the existing structure must be demolished to make way for the new.

A public tender was issued for the demolition, removal and safe disposal of the Longbird Bridge superstructure, piers, approach slabs, walls and services. After the selection process, Crisson Construction Limited was the successful bidder and awarded the contract for $249,000.00, having scored the most points on qualification and also on cost, being the lowest bidder.

Mr. Speaker, the works will commence on site immediately following an environmental impact assessment.
The demolition of Longbird Bridge will not just remove an eyesore that greets our air passengers and endangers the boating community but will also signal the rebirth of both Longbird and Swing Bridges.

Mr. Speaker, I’d now like to turn to the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Center [formerly the Allenhurst Building].
Mr. Speaker, one of the initiatives of this Ministry is the reuse of vacant Government buildings when it is financially prudent to do so. This building has been vacant since 2011 when the Police station moved to its current location at the Dame Lois Browne Evans Building.

Mr. Speaker, Allenhurst was originally built as a hotel and was purchased by the Bermuda Government in the 1920’s for government offices on the ground floor – and Police Barracks on the upper floors. Subsequent to that, the building underwent major refurbishments in the 1970’s to convert it to the Hamilton Police Station when the cell block was added.

Mr. Speaker, in 2017 the Bermuda Business Development Corporation proposed that the vacant property be converted into an International Arbitration Centre. And in the 2018 Speech from the Throne it was announced that this would be the direction of this Government and that the Building would be re-named the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre in honour of this most distinguished Bermudian.

Mr. Speaker, the plan was to renovate the original structure and add onto the building to accommodate the addition of elevators. The building was gutted earlier this year and a structural survey was carried out on the integrity of the building by Engineers this past September. That survey revealed that there had been significant deterioration and structural cracks to the external walls. It was also found that the water tank and electrical main supply is shared with the adjoining Valerie T Scott building – currently occupied by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Separately our Estates Department have had ongoing discussions with the Information Commissioner on deficiencies with that building involving air quality, dampness and mold issues.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the current state of both buildings, it is now not economical to refurbish either building and the engineers within the Ministry have recommended it would be expedient to demolish them both to make way for the new Arbitration Centre.

An application for a demolition permit has been submitted, with the plan to complete the demolition works expeditiously. The ICO office, as soon as practicable, will be relocated to allow the demolition to occur.

Mr. Speaker, you will recall that in 2002 the building was named after the first Bermudian Registrar General, Mrs. Valerie T. Scott. I can advise that her family have been advised of this plan and informed that government will find another suitable means of honouring her service to Bermuda.

Separately, Mr. Speaker, the Ministry is in the advanced stage of a Public Private partnership to build a brand new building to house the Ottiwell A. Simmons Arbitration Centre on both lots and I shall report further on progress as I am able.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “That survey revealed that there had been significant deterioration and structural cracks to the external walls. It was also found that the water tank and electrical main supply is shared with the adjoining Valerie T Scott building – currently occupied by the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

    Umm, NO! We knew of the shared electrical system between Hamilton Police Station and the Valerie T. Scott building back in the 1990s! It was a concern of the BPS.

  2. sandgrownan says:

    PPP strikes again….I thought they were against that…oh wait…

  3. hanky panky says:

    surely a PPP could only work if there is a guaranteed income stream which would mean a long lease. Is this what Government is proposing? Meanwhile how much empty office space is there already?

  4. question says:

    So we need an arbitration centre but we didn’t need an airport.

    • Entre Manure says:

      I am confused by this. I do think that Ottiwell A. Simmons deserves to be recognized for all that he has done. However, why wouldn’t the BIU not rename one of their own buildings the Ottiwell A. Simmons Building? Or is that honor only worthy of the great Bro Chris?

      What has gone so terribly wrong in Bermuda that we need a whole building dedicated as an arbitration center?

  5. Ringmaster says:

    Will the terms of the PPP be public and given to outside parties to vet like the airport (OBA), or secret like the hospital wing (PLP)?

    • Entre Manure says:

      sssshhh do as we say, not as we do? Forget the fact that we did the same for the hospital? THey only marched and protested when the OBA did the same for the airport? They only marched when Cannonaire took a private jet flight but neglected to tell the voters that Dr. Brown did the same many years before, and he awarded Tourism contracts worth millions to the owners of that plane aka Globalhue soon after? What is the difference? The Craig fight cost us $0 and he had the decency to give up his post. When the Dr. did the SAME THING and awarded contracts in the end – nothing was said or done? What was the difference?

      But quiet….shhhh we don’t want the status quo to remind you about that.

  6. Bermy Greens says:

    Man share the weed ! I swear you all sitting off getting charged and coming up throwing ideas out there ! We don’t have the money ! What don’t the gov understand.

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      The Government can always find the money. A tax on savings and investment income would do the trick!

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