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 May 2, 2013

BELLOWS FALLS -- The company tasked with "buttoning up" the Rockingham Free Public Library, after a problem with the general contractor brought progress to a halt, has been chosen to complete the renovation project.

The Rockingham Selectboard, at a joint meeting with the Bellows Falls Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, granted Chairman Tom MacPhee the authority to sign a contract with Engelberth Construction, Inc. The Colchester-based business will be responsible for the project until its expected completion in August.

Rockingham Finance Director/Interim Municipal Manager Chip Stearns said the new contract will cover the $95,000 figure meant for Baybutt Construction Corp. (the original general contractor) to finish and the $55,000 figure Engelberth has estimated for the remainder of the work.

Baybutt, a Keene, N.H-based company, had been hired as the general contractor for the $2.9 million renovation. But the project hit a snag months ago, when subcontractors refused to continue their jobs and insisted Baybutt had not paid them for the work already done. Rockingham town officials terminated a contract with Baybutt when the corporation's financial woes came to light. The library is open during construction.

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.

Engelberth was selected by the library trustees on Tuesday, Jan. 15, to "button up" the building by closing in its roofs and walls and making it "reasonably weathertight."

MacPhee previously told the Reformer there will be some sort of investigation into the whole situation. He said the library trustees hired Baybutt as the general contractor and the Selectboard got involved only "once things went south." The board intervened, he said, because the town owns the library.

The state of Vermont canceled a contract with Baybutt, which had been in business since 1964, due to similar problems. The town of Antrim, N.H., followed suit and terminated a contract to construct a new police station.

At Tuesday's meeting, Stearns said there will be no performance bond for Engelberth's work. He said the reason behind this is all sub-contractors, or subs, and vendors will be paid directly from the town, instead of through a general contractor. Stearns said Engelberth will serve as a construction manager, as opposed to a general contractor -- meaning the town will be involved with answering any questions or solving any problems that arise during the project's completion.

Engelberth Construction did not return a call seeking comment by presstime Wednesday.

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