Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gilford Board Of Selectmen Torpedoes the FPC...Again

I have to wonder what was running through the minds of the Gilford Board of Selectmen during yesterday's meeting.

In March the voters of Gilford decided the Facilities Planning Committee should receive $150,000 to put towards the completion of plans for the addition to and renovation of the police station. The FPC had hoped to work with the architect – Stewart Associates of Gilford– to complete those plans and to work with the original general contractor – Horne Construction of Rochester – to come up with a firm will-not-exceed price.

Unfortunately Stewart Associates could not continue as their workload would not allow full participation. This was understandable as the project was left up in the air at the end of December and Stewart Associates had fulfilled their requirements under Phase I of the original contract and Phase II had been postponed for at least a year. They booked other jobs and were no longer available to complete the plans for Phase II.

Town Counsel had been asked whether continuing this project was possible considering the Board of Selectmen's actions last December, putting aside efforts to bring the project before the voters at the 2008 Town Meeting. Town Counsel said there was nothing that would prevent the town's FPC from going forward with the general contractor to complete the plans and cost estimates. All that was required was the OK from the Board of Selectmen. Freshman Selectman Kevin Hayes saw no issue with such a move and brought it before the Board...

..which promptly turned it down and directed the FPC to go back to square one, sending out new bids for a new architect and new contractor. With this decision 15 months of work and almost $50,000 of taxpayer money was flushed down the toilet. (See Laconia Sun article below)

Bidding a new architect will take a minimum of 6 weeks, with 9 weeks being the most likely time line. During that time the FPC will be able to get little if anything done because it cannot go forward without an architect. Once one is selected, it will take between 4 and 8 weeks to complete the plans started under Stewart Associates. Then another 6 to 8 weeks to qualify contractors and to put out a bid to those contractors. After that the selected contractor and the FPC will need time to work on refining the costs of the project. Not counting the last part, which could take an additional 4 to 6 weeks, that takes the time line of this project out to the end of September/beginning of October, a good month or more past the Labor Day deadline requested by the Board of Selectmen. And that's assuming everything goes right the first time. If everything on the time line takes the longest portion of the estimates, we're now out to the end of October, meaning the Board of Selectmen won't see the 'end product' until November or early December, which still leaves us exactly where the FPC was last December, except that an additional $150,000 taxpayers dollars will have been spent.

The impression I'm getting is that two-thirds of the Board of Selectmen really don't want this project to go forward. They certainly showed enough neglect of the project over the 15 months the FPC labored to put the proposal together for a 2008 vote. Even with the addition of Selectman Kevin Hayes to the FPC, I have my doubts the committee can pull the plan together in the less than five months before the September deadline.

But hey, it's only the taxpayer's money, right? If need be we can continue until 2010 and spend another big bag of taxpayer's money with nothing to show for it. And then do it again in 2011. And again in 2012.

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