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For construction bids on Richmond’s $6.8M town center project, it’s back to square one

Richmond Town Hall illustration (copy) (copy)

An artist's rendering depicts the new Town Hall and community center to be built on State Road in Richmond. The town hoped that construction could begin in March, but a problem with the bidding contracts likely will push that to May.

RICHMOND — The town’s $6.8 million town center project, including a new Town Hall and library, has hit a speed bump. But, officials say it’s temporary.

The town had begun soliciting bids for the project, in hopes of breaking ground by the end of March. But, after identifying a series of mistakes in the original contract, officials have decided to go back to square one.

At a special Select Board meeting Wednesday evening, Municipal Building Committee Chairwoman Pat Callahan — she is the point person for the project — said responses to requests for subcontractor bids came in two weeks ago, but the committee has voted to ask the Select Board to cancel the sub-bids and restart the bidding procedure as soon as possible.

richmond (copy)

The site of the proposed Richmond town center project, just below Richmond Consolidated School, center. 

Town Counsel Elisabeth Goodman, of Cain Hibbard & Myers in Pittsfield, detailed how she reviewed specifications that were part of the original bid documents for general contractors and found a number of problems, including an erroneous date and an incorrect name.

Goodman felt “there were a lot of errors,” Callahan said, “so, she wasn’t comfortable and as far as she was concerned, canceling the sub-bid was the right thing to do.”

The Select Board voted 3-0 to cancel the bid package without comment or discussion, based on the building committee’s recommendation and the town counsel’s wording for the resolution.

In response to questions from The Eagle, Callahan said that “because we will be rebidding the project with the clarified language, we are going to experience a delay and some inconvenience for the bidders. When we rebid, we will accept all the bids electronically, which will, we hope, minimize inconvenience.”

As Goodman, the town counsel, stated in a message to The Eagle, “the new bid will include revised supplemental contract terms that are to be included with the general contractors contract.”

As for the construction timetable, Callahan stated that “We wish there were not a delay, but while it slows us down, it isn’t a very serious problem. We expect at least a six-week delay in our schedule, so, realistically, it will be May before we would actually begin construction.”

The project, with long-term financing through a 30-year bond as approved by annual town meeting voters in May, is on town-owned land adjacent to Richmond Consolidated School off State Road (Route 41). A short-term $500,000 loan for engineering and architectural design work will be paid back from the proceeds of the bond.

At the town meeting, where 25 percent of the town’s registered voters turned out, the project was approved, 270-34.

It’s the town’s most significant capital investment since the $6.2 million renovation and expansion of the school 22 years ago. The state covered nearly two-thirds of that cost, and the town’s share was paid off last spring.

A $1.9 million project to replace the badly deteriorated, 100-year-old Town Hall and the cramped, rented library space was floated to residents in 2002 and revised in 2005, but failed each time by a handful of votes.

Annual debt service for the new project, paying down the principal and interest, would cost the town $308,000. For homeowners, the estimated impact on property taxes would be $37 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

The owner of a median-valued $352,000 home would pay an additional $130 per year. The owner of an average-priced $406,000 home would see a $150 real estate tax increase annually.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com or on Twitter @BE_cfanto.

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