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Towns team up for emergency Island Park bridge repairs

New supports and planks for the bridge to Island Park were replaced after a woman’s foot fell through the walkway on June 27. The decision to rebuild the structure, owned by both Tilton and Northfield, came in a joint emergency meeting of selectmen. Work was completed in time for the free summer concert series at the park, which began July 4. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
July 07, 2010
TILTON — A joint emergency meeting between Tilton and Northfield selectmen last Monday resulted in the swift reconstruction of the bridge to Island Park, completed just in time for the first performance in the Savina Hartwell Summer Concert series.

The meeting was called by Tilton selectmen after a woman's foot fell through a plank June 27 as she crossed the bridge. Tilton selectman Pat Consentino said Public Works employees had gone out to inspect the walkway recently and replaced all of the planks that were in poor condition.

"The problem was this plank was rotted from underneath and you wouldn't know it needed to be replaced," Consentino said.

The two towns convened last Monday afternoon after Tilton's DPW Director Dennis Allen obtained prices for materials and received quotes from three local contractors for the entire job.

Consentino said there was initial discussion to use town employees to perform the work but with some DPW workers on vacation, it would have meant taking people off other projects in town.

"We didn't have enough manpower, and even with Northfield volunteering a couple of their employees it would have taken longer to get the job done," she said.

Materials for the job were calculated to be approximately $4,000 with another $1,800 to $2,000 in labor. An estimate from Up Country Builders nearly matched Allen's figures, and the decision was made to hire the company and allow DPW employees to continue their work in both towns.

"We weren't losing anything and we got it done right from a professional contractor," Consentino said.

Tom and Matt Gallant, owners of Up Country Builders, went to work on the project on Tuesday. The toughest part of the job was obtaining the necessary materials, Tom Gallant said. His son Matt made a fast trip to Vermont for new purlins, and they purchased kiln-dried pressure treated yellow pine, which is denser and would last longer.

As they began removing the wood on the structure they found many of the purlins supporting the planks on top were in bad condition.

"It was in terrible shape. The supports were all hollowed out by termites but you couldn't tell that from up above. It wasn't until we started tearing it up that you could see that," said Tom Gallant.

Selectmen had devised a Plan B in case the work wasn't completed in time for the July 4 concert. Consentino said they prepared to move the event from Island Park to Riverfront Park and arranged for parking at a nearby church.

"It was terrific though - they finished up the job Thursday night and we didn't have to go to Plan B after all," she said.

Northfield Selectman Geoff Ziminski said he was pleased with the work and the manner in which the two select boards were able to work together to resolve the problem.

"We came together quickly and mutually agreed to share the costs. It goes to show how well we're all working together," Ziminski said.

The bridge and island are accessed from Route 3 in Tilton but are actually joint properties of the two towns. Ziminski said that while they would have sent some of Northfield's workforce to assist in the repairs, it made "good sense" to hire the job out to a contractor.

"The emphasis was on getting it done in time for the concert, and we were very happy with the bid from Gallant. It just seemed reasonable to hire the job out," he said.

Sunday night's concert was held as scheduled in Island Park, and the concert series continues each Sunday throughout July and August.

Martin Lord Osman
Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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