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Library project problems continue
J.J. Huggins, Sentinel & Enterprise, September 22, 2006

LEOMINSTER -- At Large City Councilor Dennis Rosa said Thursday night the City Council is facing a "worst-case scenario" in deciding whether to approve a $1.3 million loan for the new library.

"It's almost like a play or a nightmare," Rosa said during the council's finance subcommittee meeting in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.

His comment came after Leominster Public Library Committee Chairman Mark Bodanza told councilors that if they spend more time considering whether to approve the money to pay for unexpected building costs, they could delay the project.

That could result in additional costs, Bodanza said.

"If this thing gets delayed... there could be a stoppage of work," Bodanza said.

The council approved $7.8 million in 2003 for the construction of a new library across the street from City Hall.

The state contributed about $3 million.

The project went out to bid last year, and the city awarded the $9,070,708 contract to Fontaine Bros. Inc. of Springfield.

A delay that officials encountered when they first attempted to go out to bid in 2004 -- due to new state regulations regarding public projects -- is the biggest reason for the funding shortfall, according to Bodanza.

Officials first made an estimate in 2002 of what they thought it would cost to build the new library.

But when they went out to bid in 2005, the lowest bid was $667,268 more than their estimate, according to Bodanza.

That, coupled with unforeseen building costs such as asbestos removal and rock removal, are the reasons why the library project needs another $1.3 million, according to Bodanza.

The finance committee, which Rosa chairs, hadn't decided whether to support the spending by the time Thursday's meeting ended. They spent about an hour questioning library officials.

The subcommittee, which consists of Rosa, Wayne Nickel and John Dombrowski, have the task of making a recommendation to the full council on how they should vote.

The subcommittee will try to make a decision during Monday night's City Council meeting at City Hall, Rosa said after Thursday night's meeting.

Rosa went over several change orders, which Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella signed, where the city gave the contractors more money for various expenses, such as the asbestos removal.

"When you realized the shortfall was so large, I'm wondering why you didn't have a meeting with the City Council," Rosa told Bodanza, Library Director Susan Shelton, and other people involved with the project.

Bodanza said the library committee was "very busy" dealing with other matters related to the project.

He also noted that the project manager, Michael Mullaney, worked with the contractor to cut costs wherever they could.



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