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Police/court building to open in early 2011

The police/court building will be fully constructed by December 31 and officially open around a month later, Works Minister Derrick Burgess said yesterday.

Mr Burgess said the cost of the project to be named after former Progressive Labour Party leader Dame Lois Browne-Evans had not increased since his last estimate of $91.8 million, which he said was a $13.8 million increase.

Yesterday, this newspaper reported the initial budget was $71 million, but reports on the figure have varied over the past three years, with then Works Minister Dennis Lister putting it at $75 million in 2007. Mr Burgess yesterday said the original total allowed funding was $78 million.

Both Opposition parties had called for progress reports on the cost and time-scale of the initiative in yesterday's

Royal Gazette. As well as being over budget, it also missed the initial opening deadline of August 2010.

In a ministerial statement in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Burgess said: “I am delighted to note that this major construction project is fast approaching completion.

“In fact, it is our expectation that all construction aspects will be complete and the buildings partially furnished by December 31, 2010.

“It is our further expectation that the building will be completely furnished in January, with the first tenants moving into the building at that time. The building's official opening will occur around that time.

“We are confident that the total cost of $91.3 million, approved by the Ministry of Finance, for the construction and fit out of the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building will not be exceeded.

“That amount includes provision for the statue of Dame Lois that we have been hearing so much about during the past few days.”

Shadow Attorney General Trevor Moniz had accused Government of “very poor management” of the project, which has been hit by controversy throughout the past three years.

Yesterday, Mr Burgess argued none of the rising costs were due to mismanagement, attributing them instead to factors such as unforeseen ground conditions and errors and omissions on the construction drawings.

He said the building would be named after Dame Lois because of her status as one of the greatest Bermudians of all time lawyer, statesman, Attorney General and Minister of Legislative Affairs in the first PLP Government.

“Surely there can be no greater physical tribute to the honour and legacy of Dame Lois than this magnificent building, one that changes forever the face of Church, Court and Victoria Streets,” he said.

Regarding criticism that an American, Zenos Frudakis, was chosen as sculptor for the Dame Lois statue, Mr Burgess said: “The Government deeply regrets the totally unnecessary controversy that has surrounded the selection of a non-Bermudian sculptor for the project.

“In selecting Mr Frudakis to create the sculpture of Dame Lois, the Government meant no disrespect to any Bermudian artist whose work we value enormously. In fact, the statue of Sally Bassett, the work of a Bermudian sculptor, graces the grounds of the Cabinet Building.

“Quite simply, our decision to engage the services of Mr Frudakis was based upon his international reputation, his ability to deliver the sculpture on time at relatively short notice and the reasonable cost of the work.”

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Published December 04, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 10, 2010 at 3:30 am)

Police/court building to open in early 2011

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