Lincoln to try again with garage proposal

Posted Dec. 19, 2010, at 2:37 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 7:24 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — With a revised proposal to build a new public works garage for $1.15 million in hand, town leaders will meet Monday to discuss restarting the voting process that could lead to the garage’s construction.

The Town Council will decide at 7 p.m. Monday whether to hold a public hearing on Jan. 10 at which residents will say whether they support holding a referendum sometime next year on whether to build the garage, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

The third and latest garage redesign offered for construction on the town’s Park Avenue site features an 8,025-square-foot building of three bays that could hold six vehicles and six rooms, including an office, lunch room, two bathrooms, and storage and building utilities areas, Public Works Department Director David Lloyd said.

“It will meet our current needs,” Lloyd said Friday. “Will it meet our needs in the future? Probably not.”

The building committee charged with working with architects from Ames Associates of Bangor offered councilors the $1.15 million plan on Tuesday. That plan, Goodwin said, includes the following estimates:

ä About $940,000 in garage construction costs. That figure includes cost estimates Ames gathered from three contractors. The estimates place the average cost of constructing the building’s metal frame at about $266,167.

“People should remember that the building [bids] might come in a lot lower than that,” Lloyd said.

“We have no intention of spending that much money if the bids come in lower,” Goodwin said. “Our belief is that the bids will come in a lot lower, but we need a mechanism that will allow the project to move forward.”

Going forward includes securing bonding for the project and holding the hearings and referendum, Goodwin said.

ä Another $95,000 in state-mandated contingency fees that would be halved to about $47,500 when contractors actually bid to build the project.

ä Another $110,000 in estimated design and engineering costs that include about $50,000 already spent on previous designs and to pay Ames for its attendance at meetings. The $110,000 also includes project bid preparations and naming a clerk of the works to ensure that the building is built according to specs.

The original garage proposal offered on Oct. 19 had a price tag of $2.4 million, but a virtual taxpayer revolt against the price and its impact on taxes led by a half-dozen of the town’s leading business owners convinced council members that less garage would be preferable.

The business owners said profits, property values and government services have declined, taxes have risen and the town’s population has remained static.

Councilors also rejected a $1.5 million, four-bay garage plan on Oct. 27.

The latest design differs from the previous, costlier proposals in that it lacks the cold storage bay and a service pit included in all previous designs, Lloyd said.

Goodwin and Lloyd admitted to some frustration in pursuing the new garage. Councilors generally have agreed for many years that the existing building on Park Avenue needs replacement. The garage had a leaky roof and its sides bleed heat because of a lack of insulation. It also lacks workspace, a lunch area for workers and storage space.

Committee members, too, have expressed frustration, saying they were following council directives in assembling the $2.4 million plan only to see councilors crumble to the adverse public reaction to the design. Since then, councilors have repeatedly directed that the plan be pared back, but not so far as to equal the $675,000 garage renovation plan that voters rejected in a November 2008 referendum. The vote was 1,175 to 1,117.

Now, Lloyd said, they have a garage design that won’t meet town needs over the 50-year life of the building if the town expands significantly or state officials turn their maintenance of state roads through Lincoln over to town officials, which state officials have discussed.

If either occurs, the building will need an addition, Lloyd said.

“The cost of building materials rises every year,” Goodwin said. “If we built the building five years ago, it could have come in at $675,000, but five years from now, it probably won’t come in at $940,000. There are certain costs we have no control over.

“It would be nice,” she added, “if we had a business in town that could provide us with 24-hour [public works] service at a reasonable cost. Then we would not

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