SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Town councilors Tuesday unanimously designated Town Manager Perry Ellsworth as the project manager for the new library’s construction and authorized him to sign a contract to begin its official design and development phase.
Ellsworth said Tuesday the town has been in the “conceptual/schematic phase” for several months now, and needed to now sign the $40,000 architectural services contract in order to actually move forward with the project and “narrow down” the final numbers associated with its cost.
“If we don’t get to this stage here, we won’t know what the final numbers will be,” he said. “We can’t ask contractors to bid without knowing the scope. We can’t do this until we get through this stage.”
Ellsworth said the plan is to have the construction document ready by May 15 so the town can solicit bids between May 15 and June 1 and receive the bids by mid-to-late June.
He said the town “likely won’t be ready to start” construction on July 1 as hoped, although he said they may be able to start on Aug. 1, and the plan is to still have the all exterior work and have the “building encapsulated… so it can survive the winter” by early fall.
The decision to proceed with the contract as well as Ellsworth’s appointment as project manager was met with public praise during Tuesday’s meeting.
Norma Tutelian, a resident and former town councilor, said before the meeting she welcomed both moves because the project has been lingering. Tutelian also made that stance known during the meeting through a brief public comment before the council took action.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” she said. “Maybe it will get the ball rolling.”
The library project entails renovating and building up the St. Michael’s Church building on Young Street to turn it into a library.
The town has bonded $1.5 million for the project through a 15-year bond with an interest rate of 3.799 percent, while the Friends of the South Berwick Library are tasked with raising $1 million.
Councilors also unanimously authorized Ellsworth Tuesday to send out a second request for proposal for the church’s rectory, which is adjacent to the church and must be moved or deconstructed in order for the library project to proceed.
An RFP request had already been submitted, although Ellsworth said the interested party determined two weeks ago its plan would not be feasible. The town is hoping the RFP will bring fresh ideas for the rectory, as it would have to be deconstructed to move it down the street as developers had hoped.
Residents and the town’s Historic District Commission have advocated for the preservation of the building, including resident Richard Clough, who suggested Tuesday the structure be incorporated into the library idea rather than getting rid of it.
Ellsworth said Tuesday the town’s “first path” is to hopefully find someone who wants to pay to dismantle or move the structure, and he said the town is open to and searching for ideas from construction firms.
The council’s next public session is on Thursday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in Ellsworth’s office to go over the police and emergency personnel portions of the upcoming fiscal year’s proposed budget.
The council will also meet on Tuesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. to go over the Public Works Department budget.
Copyright (c) 2011, Foster’s Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.