Saturday January 26, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Department of Buildings and Services is still looking for answers as it tries to move ahead with work being done at the Brattleboro State Office Building, which is next door to the Brattleboro Municipal Building.

Baybutt Construction Managers of Keene, N.H., is facing a host of problems at projects throughout the region, and the state earlier this month terminated its contract with Baybutt because subcontractors who have been doing work on the State Office Building were not being paid.

This week the Vermont Department of Buildings and Services sent a letter to the bonding company to get an update on the situation and to try to get more workers back in to finish up the project.

"Ever since we terminated the contract things have been quiet and we requested information on the status of the project," said Bob Rea, director of facilities for the eastern region at the Vermont Department of Buildings and Services. "We are trying to put together a plan to move forward."

Baybutt has been facing undisclosed problems and the construction company has not been paying its subcontractors on projects in Brattleboro, Rockingham, Keene and Nantucket, Mass.

According to Rea the bonding company that is working with the state is responsible for moving the project along.

He said there have been a handful of workers on site, but the state wants to get more workers into the vacant building to meet the April deadline.

The state is renting office space on Linden Street and at Chickering Drive during construction.

Any delays in the project will force the state to extend its contracts at the rental sites, and Rea says the department is trying to avoid that scenario.

Rea said he hopes the bonding company will come up with a plan soon.

"We expect them to contact us so we can discuss what they propose," said Rea. "We want contractors to be paid. We want to get this project moving again."

The $2.6-million renovation of the 35-year-old state office building started in May.

The state wants to completely renovate the 20,000-square-foot interior, including installing new heat and air ventilation systems and improving the energy efficiency of the building.

Rea said the bonding company still thinks it will be possible to finish the job on time, and he said he expects to get some more answers next week.

He said some of the subcontractors who had been working there refused to come back, while others were willing to return if the financial situation is worked out.

"It’s not a complicated project. If we get the right crews in there, and the right number of people I think we can pull it off," said Rea. "We terminated our contract with Baybutt. They are out of the picture. We just have to put together a plan and get moving."

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