Rockingham breaks impasse with library subcontractors
By Susan Smallheer
Staff WRITER | March 27,2013
BELLOWS FALLS — The town of Rockingham has a tentative agreement with subcontractors on the $2.3 million renovation project at the Rockingham Free Public Library that would see the subcontractors go back to work.
Town officials met for a couple of hours behind closed doors at the Bellows Falls Opera House on Tuesday afternoon to try to reach an agreement on the problem.
Town Attorney Stephen Ankuda said late Tuesday afternoon that the details of the agreement wouldn’t be made public “until the ink is dry.”
But he said that contractors, who have filed liens totalling $500,000 against the town and Baybutt Construction Co. over unpaid bills from the renovation project, would be paid a portion of what they were due, and that they would resume work on the project. Some of the contractors even filed suit against the town in Windham County civil court.
Ankuda said the renovation project would have to be scaled back to save money — at least about $200,000. But he said the renovation would be scaled back to allow the eventual completion of the project as envisioned. He said the subcontractors were owed $750,000 from Baybutt.
Costly oak trim and heavy oak and glass doors would have to be replaced with something less costly, he said. Likewise, a tile floor in a bathroom may be left as concrete, leaving open the possibility for completion at a later date.
Baybutt Construction Co. of Keene, N.H., failed to take out a construction performance and payment bond to cover the costs of the unpaid contractors, despite receiving payment of $21,000, said Ankuda.
Fred Baybutt, president of the firm, said in a bankruptcy hearing last week that the town decided against the performance bond, something Ankuda disputed.
He said while eliminating the bond was discussed, it was rejected wholeheartedly by the Rockingham Library Board of Trustees.
Baybutt has also failed to pay contractors at several other construction projects in southern Vermont and southwest New Hampshire.
The state of Vermont terminated its contract with Baybutt over the renovation of the state office building in downtown Brattleboro over the same issue.
Thomas MacPhee, chairman of the Rockingham Select Board, who attended the session, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.