Montgomery County officials are reviewing bids for a new minimum-security building on the grounds of the county prison in Eagleville. They received and opened them earlier this month, and the county commissioners hired the Philadelphia law firm of Saul-Ewing as special counsel to help them through a potential minefield of litigation. Deputy Chief Operating Officer Jim Maza says they need the firm’s expertise in large construction projects to avoid the problems the county had the last time it expanded the prison.
“The last prison project that Montgomery County did was not the best evidence of good government. We had people going to prison, we had problems with the contracting, we had terminations, we had lawsuits, we had arbitrations. This time we want to do it different.”
Maza says the special counsel’s main job is to enforce remedies as soon as possible if any contractors should deviate from the promises made. Commissioners Chairman Jim Matthews says the decision to hire the firm was not made lightly.
“We don’t, on the drop of a dime, go out and hire outside expertise and counsel. We use the facilities we have, but you also need to know your limitations, and something as exacting as this could be in dealing with responsible contracting specifications. With building specifications themselves for a multi, multi-million-dollar project, I feel I know my limitations.”
Matthews says the $890 million addition to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia has gone ahead flawlessly under the direction of Saul-Ewing. The new building should ease prison overcrowding.