Meanwhile, in Delaware and Chester Counties, government projects costing $50 million are on hold because bids cannot be sent out without a labor department wage determination. For example, in West Chester, the Chester County Courthouse cannot proceed with its $1.2 million, fourth-floor renovation project that calls for three new courtrooms, two jury rooms and office space.
``We have a judge coming in January, and he needs a courtroom,'' said Mark Rupsis, director of administrative services for Chester County. ``We're in a holding pattern, and it's getting very frustrating.''
Chester County Engineer Matthew Mazza said that the renovations would not be completed until at least March and that alternative plans are being made.
In Phoenixville, officials are planning to use a state grant to upgrade the borough's parks, many of which need repairs. The $300,000 park restoration program, which called for new swing sets and other playground equipment, is on hold.
``We were hoping to have some of the parks finished so that they could be used this summer, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen,'' said Don Edwards, Phoenixville public works director.
School districts look to the summer as the ideal time to work on their buildings and grounds. This year, however, many improvements are being delayed.
Upper Darby, Springfield, Radnor, Owen J. Roberts and West Chester are five of many districts that have postponed work indefinitely.
In the Downingtown Area School District, three projects have been affected: the Shamona Creek Elementary School roof replacement; wiring for communications and data equipment at the new Downingtown Middle School; and seven new tennis courts, along with seven others that need renovation.
The first two projects have been put on hold, but the district has decided to proceed with work on the tennis courts at the old rate, before the case went to court. Bids are to be opened in two weeks.
``This allows us to move forward with our work,'' said Gil Lappano, facilities director. ``L&I didn't give us permission, but they advised us that other agencies were using the old wage rates.''
Jack McGettigan, a spokesman for Labor and Industry, confirmed that other agencies are going ahead with getting bids.
``It would appear to be a violation of the law, but we understand the position people are in,'' he said. ``We can't tell people to do it, but we are aware that people consider it their only option.''
Dennis J. Carey, Delaware County director of public works, said that he, too, was considering alternatives as the wage battle brought renovation work at the county juvenile detention center in Lima to a standstill. Plans call for more beds there.
``Exactly what the delay is going to be, nobody knows, so we are looking at our options right now,'' he said. Carey said the project is one month behind schedule.
Several other Delaware County projects are delayed, including one to install new air conditioning for county detectives.
In the Owen J. Roberts School District in Chester County, only one small project has been delayed, but Business Administrator Denny Bolton is concerned about the district's $36 million plan for two new schools. Bids are scheduled to go out in the fall.
``We were just lucky that it didn't really affect us this summer,'' he said. ``If this goes until November, we will be very unfortunate.''