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RICHMOND — The city’s $6.8 million downtown project, including a new City Hall and library, has hit a speed bump. But officials say it’s temporary.

The city had begun soliciting bids for the project, hoping groundbreaking could occur by the end of March. But after finding a number of flaws in the original contract, officials have decided to go back to square one.

At a special Select Board meeting Wednesday night, Municipal Building Committee chair Pat Callahan — who is the contact for the project — said responses to requests for subcontracting bids were received two weeks ago, but the committee voted to allow the Select Board to ask you to cancel the lower bids and restart the bidding process as soon as possible.

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The location of the proposed Richmond downtown project, just below the Richmond Consolidated School, center.

Town Counsel Elisabeth Goodman of Cain Hibbard & Myers in Pittsfield detailed how she reviewed specifications that were part of the original general contractor tender documents and found a number of issues including an incorrect date and name.

Goodman felt that “there were a lot of mistakes,” Callahan said, “so she didn’t feel comfortable, and as far as she was concerned, canceling the underbid was the right thing to do.”

The selection committee voted 3-0 to cancel the bid package without comment or discussion, based on the building committee’s recommendation and the city council’s wording of the resolution.

In response to questions from The Eagle, Callahan said, “As we will be re-bid on the project with the clearer language, we will experience a delay and some inconvenience for bidders. If we bid again, we will accept all bids electronically, which we hope will minimize any inconvenience.”

As Councilor Goodman noted in a message to The Eagle, “The new offering will include revised additional contract terms to be included in the general contractor agreement.”

Referring to the construction schedule, Callahan stated, “We wish there wasn’t a delay, but while it’s slowing us down, it’s not a very serious issue. We anticipate a delay of at least six weeks in our schedule, so realistically it will be May before we would actually start construction.”

The project, with long-term funding through a 30-year bond approved by voters at the May annual city meeting, is located on city-owned land adjacent to the Richmond Consolidated School on State Road (Route 41). Proceeds of the bond will repay a $500,000 short-term loan for engineering and architectural design work.

At the city assembly, attended by 25 percent of the city’s registered voters, the project was approved by a vote of 270 to 34.

It is the city’s largest capital investment since the school’s $6.2 million renovation and expansion 22 years ago. The state covered nearly two-thirds of those costs, and the city’s share was paid off last spring.

A $1.9 million project to replace the badly dilapidated 100-year-old City Hall and cramped rented library space was presented to residents in 2002 and revamped in 2005, but failed by a handful of votes each time.

Annual debt service for the new project, principal and interest, would cost the city $308,000. For homeowners, the estimated property tax impact is $37 per $100,000 estimated appraisal.

The owner of a home with an average value of $352,000 would pay an additional $130 per year. The owner of a home with an average price of $406,000 would see a $150 increase in property taxes annually.


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