Although there are still questions and unresolved issues – and it wasn’t the lowest bid – the Charlotte Selectboard Monday night unanimously awarded the contract for building the Charlotte Library addition to the ReArch Company.
Selectboard member Fritz Tegatz introduced the ReArch’s design, which was preferred by the library board and three working groups formed for the library addition project.
Tegatz said they recommended going with ReArch and its design, despite it’s not being the lowest bid, because “it was the best value for the money” and “was much better at accomplishing the library’s goals.”
“I think that the significant change from the conceptual plan was putting the children’s area where there’s the most light,” Tegatz said.
ReArch’s bid of $1,290,000, if solar energy panels are included in the construction, was about $7,000 more than Breadloaf Corporation’s bid of $1,283,000. The bids had been narrowed down to these two companies. ReArch’s bid is $100,000 less than the $1.4 million that voters approved for the library addition on Town Meeting Day.
Changes to original design
ReArch’s plan makes the southern end of the building a wall with windows and with an area for the children’s section there. The preliminary conceptual plan moved the primary library entrance from the east side of the building to its southern end, but ReArch’s proposed design moves the entrance to the west side of the building. With this plan, patrons will enter from the Town Green, said library director Margaret Woodruff.
This plan eliminates the driveway on the west side of the library and grass would be planted here. Vehicles will access the library parking lot by entering the existing driveway on the west side of the Charlotte Town Hall.
Rather than adding a roof over the addition with a peak that runs from east to west or perpendicular to the current roofline, ReArch’s design will match and continue the roofline as it exists on the library now, Woodruff said. This will mean that the south end of the library would no longer be a roof where solar panels could go.
“In the owner costs, we didn’t include the solar panels,” Tegatz said. “With the previous roof design it wasn’t enough to supply the building. And it was kind of a consensus over the few meetings that we had that the solar should be handled almost as a separate item.”
ReArch’s bid without their $97,600 estimated cost for the solar panels is $1,192,000. Breadloaf’s bid for the solar panels was $102,000, bringing their bid without them to $1,181,000.
Because of time constraints, Tegatz said the committees advocated moving ahead and choosing a contractor. However, he did discuss options for including solar energy panels for the library project. Those options include a solar energy demonstration project with different panels such as fixed, tracker and roof to show the varieties of panel types or finding a location to support enough panels to power the whole town since part of Charlotte’s energy plan is to use less fossil fuels.
Site work costs were also left out of the bid, but part of the plan for the site “includes an additional eight or nine parking spots,” he said.
Objections to new design
Peter Trono, who commented as a member of the public, raised objections to the plan because he said there were so many things that hadn’t been done, such as applying for permits and consulting with the planning commission, as well as unanswered concerns about septic and parking requirements.
John Quinney, who is on the energy committee, objected to taking solar out of the initial design. “I was on the bid review subcommittee and at our last meeting we’d reached agreement on the budget and had solar in the budget,” he said, “and the first I knew it was taken out was coming to this meeting tonight, so that’s a little disconcerting.”
He argued for putting some solar on the library roof even if it’s reduced as a way of making a statement. Quinney said that moving the panels to the west side of the building would only reduce their effectiveness to 80 percent.
“I don’t want anyone to feel like anything was misrepresented,” said town clerk and treasurer Mary Mead, who was also a member of the building committee. “I think that solar is an important part of this project. I think that our previous conversations have demonstrated our interest and our commitment to including that as part of the project.”
She said that her understanding after the library building committee meeting was that the solar part of the addition was “in flux.” They’d agreed due to “the time crunch” to move it out of the decision for the time being “for the purpose of moving forward.”
Tegatz and selectboard chair Matt Krasnow agreed that they should approve a contractor at Monday’s meeting and approve the contract at a future meeting.
The vote was 5-0 for choosing ReArch, with selectboard members Louise McCarren and Carrie Spear, who were both out of town, voting by speaker phone.
A discussion of financing for the library addition and of a Memorandum of Agreement with the town, the Library Board of Trustees and the Friends of the Charlotte Library was moved to the June 10 selectboard meeting.
In other library news, the selectboard approved the Friends of the Library request to use the Town Green in front of Town Hall for their third annual Book Sale on July 21. There will be food trucks and the energy committee will hold a “fossil free jamboree.”
The attendance went up for the public comment section of the selectboard meeting with roughly 20 people asking for relief from problems caused by abandoned and vacant homes on Stockbridge and Island Farm Roads, including rodents, worries about vagrants and poison parsnip.
Chuck Deslauriers said he’s seen a group of bobcats on the porch of one of the homes.
Krasnow said that this is a very important problem and he thought that they would be able to address the abandoned home issue at the June 24 meeting.