Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Library costs questioned - FinCom asks why?
Mary Jo Hill, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September
LEOMINSTER - With a request to borrow another $1.3
million for the city library project on the table, the
Finance Committee last night quizzed those working on the
project about changes that added to the costs and why they
did not see some of the changes coming.
Councilor Dennis A. Rosa said the council should have been
treated as a partner in the construction project.
Now that the renovation and expansion of the Leominster
Public Library is 80 percent complete, the council is in
"sticker shock" over the cost, Mr. Rosa said.
At the end of last night's committee meeting, no
recommendation was made on the request to appropriate the
money and authorize the borrowing. Instead, committee
members will decide about making a recommendation at
Monday's City Council meeting.
When he was told that any delay in moving the additional
$1.3 million forward could cause construction to slow down
or stop and add to the expense, Mr. Rosa said the situation
was like a nightmare for the Finance Committee.
Once the construction project is done, the library will be
more than 44,000 square feet. The renovation and expansion
was budgeted for about $12.4 million.
Mark C. Bodanza, chairman of the library building committee,
talked about some of the factors that added to the cost.
Even before construction started, there was a delay that
boosted the price tag, Mr. Bodanza said.
Those working on the project had to determine if a new state
statute applied to the expansion and renovation and in the
meantime prices of steel, cement and other materials went
up, he said.
An unexpected, but significant, asbestos problem cropped up
when construction began, adding to the costs, Mr. Bodanza
said. And city departments knew that this was happening, he
Those working on the project were able to keep down the
asbestos abatement cost, he said.
"I don't mean to make excuses but there were a lot of things
going on," Mr. Bodanza said.
Mr. Rosa said he has seen some major change orders for the
"It's very clear that this project was in financial trouble
from day one," Mr. Rosa said.
Mr. Rosa said he believes the council should have been
notified sooner, he said. Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella signed
every change order, he said.
Councilor Wayne A. Nickel questioned why the architect was
not aware of asbestos in an older part of the library and
why nobody anticipated water problems since the area where
the building is located is known to be wet.
The asbestos in the older part of the building could not be
seen without doing a "destructive investigation," said
Michael J. Mullaney, vice president of McKenzie Engineering
Co. in Leominster. Even with that investigation, finding the
asbestos would have been hit or miss, he said.
And while those working on the project had an idea about the
groundwater elevation, the significant problem did not come
up until they were excavating for a new basement and hit a
spring, Mr. Mullaney said. Waterproofing added to the
Councilor John M. Dombrowski wanted to know if there were
any changes that could be made at this point to save money,
such as cutting some amenities.
Mr. Mullaney said some cost-saving measures have been made,
including using fiberglass rather than stone for the cornice
at the top of the building.