Friday November 9, 2012

HALIFAX - As it turns out, the mystery of the town’s "missing" I-beams wasn’t such a mystery after all.

"I knew they were there the whole time," Selectboard Chairman Lewis Sumner said on Wednesday, in reference to the beams’ location -- Cold River Bridges’ garage in Walpole, N.H.

"There’s no room on the site to store anything," Cold River co-owner Jim Hollar told the Selectboard during a special meeting Thursday afternoon. "I’ll be glad to give you guys back the steel."

The I-beams were removed from the construction site at Deer Park Bridge, which is being rebuilt after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the area last year. Cold River Bridges began work, unauthorized, before a pre-construction meeting with the Selectboard and took the I-beams to its garage during this time. The I-beams, which are town property, were part of the old bridge’s structure and under a federal procurement rule, Halifax cannot sell the steel.

SVE, the engineering firm handling the project, was told not to take the I-beams and the information was not passed along to Cold River, Halifax EMS Chief Christina Moore told the Reformer on Wednesday.

On Nov. 7, Sumner spoke with representatives from Cold River and SVE. Sumner said that the Nov. 7 article in the Reformer ("Halifax wants its Deer Park Bridge I-beams back") had confused readers, particularly the headline, and that people approached him during Tuesday’s elections asking whether the I-beams had been stolen.

"I said I knew where they were and we’d get it straightened out," said Sumner.

The Selectboard wrote a letter, dated Nov. 2, addressed to Cold River about returning the I-beams, but the article appeared before the letter was received.

Moore said concerned people were calling Hollar asking him if he was responsible for the "theft."

"It was administrative miscommunication," said Moore. "In their defense, we told the engineering firm not to take it, but they never told the contracting firm."

Thursday’s Selectboard meeting addressed several other issues with the Deer Park Bridge project.

Hollar told the board about high-performance concrete, which he already purchased and began putting down on the bridge. The concrete would cost more than figured in the bidding process because he went with a better concrete than was described in the design plan.

The Selectboard approved a motion for the increased cost of concrete.

Peter Boemig of SVE was also in attendance to go over details with the Selectboard for the contract for Deer Park Bridge. The Selectboard approved the contract, retroactivally, since construction already began, on the grounds that the corrections will be made from the board’s review.

Chris Mays can be reached at cmays@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.