Construction resumes at the State Office Building in Brat­tleboro. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Construction resumes at the State Office Building in Brat­tleboro. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Tuesday April 9, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- After a delay of about a two months workers are once again on site at the State Office Building at 232 Main Street near the Brattleboro Municipal Center.

The $2.3 million renovation project of the 35-year-old building was stopped when the former construction manager, Baybutt Construction, ran into financial troubles and stopped paying the subcontractors who were doing the work.

The subcontractors walked off the job after Baybutt was unable to pay them and the one-year project ground to a halt as the Department of Buildings and General Services sorted out the mess.

Now, after working with the surety company and paying off the contractors, crews are once again at work and the state hopes to have staff back in some time this summer.

"It sounds like all of the issues have been resolved and the work has restarted," said Sadie Fischesser, Agency of Human Services field director for the Brattleboro and Bennington districts. "We are grateful everything was resolved. Everyone is looking to moving back in."

The 20,000-square-foot building, which houses staff from AHS, as well as from the Department of Labor, closed in April 2012.

The state is completely gutting and renovating the interior, including installing a new air and heating system and improving the energy efficiency throughout. The space is also being reconfigured to improve privacy and the work spaces.

AHS staff members have been at 178 Linden Street while Department of Labor staff have been working at 54 Chickering Drive.

Fischesser said the move has been challenging with both clients and staff having to work in tight quarters with less than ideal privacy for dealing with sometimes personal family issues.

"It has definitely taken some adjustment," she said. "We have appreciated everyone's patience as we worked through these issues. I think we all did the best we could with the space constraints we had."

The project was supposed to be done by the end of April.

Project Manager Lauren Washburn said everyone was surprised when Baybutt ran into trouble.

She said once it was clear that Baybutt was having trouble meeting its obligations, the state started working with its bonding company, and since then, she said, things have been steadily improving.

Workers returned to the State Office Building last week.

The project is now being managed by Fasano Accione and Associates, and Washburn said if everything goes as planned state staff should be back in by sometime in July.

"These things take time," she said. "It is nice to have people back at work there again."

Problems at Baybutt also caused delays at the Rockingham Free Public Library, but for that project Baybutt failed to take out a security bond to cover the subcontractors.

Rockingham has scaled back its project and is working to pay off the companies to get the project back on track. Rockingham officials hope work will begin at the library soon.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.