The Rockingham Free Public Library in Bellows Falls. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
The Rockingham Free Public Library in Bellows Falls. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Thursday March 28, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- Rockingham's town attorney is drafting documentation on an agreement of concept that would get several subcontractors back to work on a $2.9-million renovation project at the Rockingham Free Public Library.

Stephen Ankuda told the Reformer he spent a couple of hours on Tuesday in a private meeting with the Rockingham Selectboard, Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen and the attorneys of some subcontractors who walked off the job months ago after claiming they were not paid for work completed.

He said nothing is in writing yet but he hopes to have the agreement finalized within a week or so.

"We want to move fast with this," he said, adding that he would not mention any figures that have been discussed. He did, however, say subcontractors will be paid a portion of what they are due.

Ankuda said the compensation will differ between subcontractors, or subs, because some are owed a few thousand dollars while others are out six figures. Altogether, subs are owed about $750,000 from Baybutt.

Several contractors refused to continue their work and claimed general contractor Baybutt Construction Corp. had failed to pay them what they were already owed. Liens totaling $500,000 have been filed in the Rockingham town land records by some subcontractors.

The library, located at 65 Westminster St., is open during construction, though the renovation likely won't be finished until late summer or early fall. It was initially expected to be completed by the spring.

Ankuda said the whole project will have to be scaled back significantly to save money that will be used to compensate subcontractors.

Baybutt Construction, a Keene, N.H.-based company, had been hired by the Rockingham Selectboard as the general contractor of the renovation but ran into financial difficulties, forcing the Selectboard to terminate its contract with the business. The company's owner, Frederick L. Baybutt, declared personal bankruptcy in February.

Baybutt did not take out a performance or a payment bond, which acts as a sort of insurance contract and was a project requirement from the town.

Engelberth Construction Inc. (of Colchester) was selected by the library's board of trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 15, to "button up" the building by closing in its roofs and walls and making it "reasonably weathertight."

Cullenen told the Reformer that Engelberth's work has been completed. He said a new construction management firm will likely be hired at some point in the future but that process has barely even begun.

Russ Hodgkins, of Hodgkins & Sons Inc., one of the subs, said he couldn't speak much about the situation but mentioned several subcontractors will meet privately with project architect Eric Palson -- of Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture -- to get a say in what they believe fair compensation would be. He said he is owed $19,000.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.