BELLOWS FALLS -- The Rockingham Selectboard voted Thursday morning to give selected town officials the authority to meet with the legal counsel of subcontractors suing the town over lack of payment by the general contractor initially picked for library renovations.
Chairman Tom MacPhee said board members, after talking in executive session for nearly three hours, voted to authorize MacPhee, Municipal Manager Tim Cullenen, Rockingham Finance Director Chip Stearns and Rockingham Town Attorney Stephen Ankuda to meet with the lawyers of four or five subcontractors, or subs, in an effort to get them back on the job. The meeting will take place at 1 p.m. in the Rockingham Town Hall Lower Theatre on Tuesday.
MacPhee said he also was authorized to sign an agreement with the opposing counsel if one is reached.
The $2.9 million renovation project at the Rockingham Free Public Library became stalled months ago, when subs refused to continue their work and insisted Baybutt Construction Corp., the general contractor, had not paid them for what they had already done. Rockingham town officials terminated a contract with Baybutt when the corporation's severe financial woes came to light.
Baybutt Construction 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. The company's owner, Frederick L. Baybutt, declared personal bankruptcy in February.
Ankuda has said
The library is open during construction.
On Thursday, the Selectboard was joined in executive session by Cullenen, representatives from Engelberth Construction Inc. (the company selected to "button up" the library's roof and walls), Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture (the firm hired for the project), the library's board of trustees and the librarian.
MacPhee said the whole situation is moving in the right direction. He said there should be an investigation into how the mess happened but it is too early to begin. He told the Reformer the project will have to be scaled back significantly but the extent is unknown at this time.
"The main objective is getting the library operational again," he said Thursday.
Cullenen told the Reformer a new construction management firm will likely be hired at some point in the future but that process has barely even begun. He had previously believed the renovation project would be finished by the spring but now believes it will be some time in the late summer or early fall.
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