Library addition costs jump over original estimate


January 26, 2011
WHITEFIELD — The cost estimate for basic renovations and a modest addition of 1,450 square feet to the Whitefield Public Library came in a whopping $136,000 — 36 percent — over the original $450,000 estimate.

Ed Betz, of the town's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) committee, told the Whitefield Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)that this development brings the new estimated total for the renovation to $586,000, at the WEDC's quarterly meeting last Wednesday.

Betz suggested to the WEDC, chaired by Sam Chase, that an all-hands-on-deck approach that would seek to cuts costs and secure volunteer or reduced-cost efforts could keep the much-needed project on track.

Black River Design Architects of Montpelier, Vt., came up with the new estimate as the firm reached the 90 percent mark, nearing what was to have been the time to go out to bid.

The revenue stream for the original project on Lancaster Road (Route 3) came from four sources: $170,000 from USDA Rural Development; $150,000 from the library trustees' capital reserve fund; $50,000 from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund administered by the N. H. Charitable Foundation; and $80,000 from an as-yet-to-be issued town bond.

The original project budget included substantial contingency funds and $36,000 could be shifted from that to help cover the new estimate, explained Betz in a Friday afternoon telephone interview. Shifting more than that would not be prudent, he said.

"Almost half of the cost overrun is attributed to the site work alone," Betz said. The original tab was nearly $29,500 but that cost soared to nearly $85,500. Concerns in the NHDOT District Engineer's office about overloading an old Route 3 drainage system resulted in a new plan being developed to create a costly stormwater infiltration gallery — underground storage basins — on the library's front lawn, which would also require the loss of at least one tree. Instead, Betz intends to seek permission from the selectmen to ask the Gate of Heaven Parish of the Manchester Diocese, under whose jurisdiction St. Matthew's Catholic Church falls, for an easement. If the Diocese gives permission, new under-drains designed to serve the library and possibly the town hall could be discharged into drainage pipes under Jefferson Road (Route 116).

Betz would also like to see if local contractors would be willing to accept discounted equipment rates, diesel fuel, labor and so forth and even donated services to move the project forward. He will also see if the selectmen would be willing to assign town crew members to do site prep and demolition work.

Changes could perhaps also be made to the furnace replacement plan that would to reduce the need for new ductwork.

An energy efficient hot water boiler might be better than hot air, Betz said, particularly since the furnace costs were some $19,000 more than the original estimate of $46,000.

The project, which would make the building handicapped-accessible, should be able to be completed if these and similar avenues are explored and a "can-do" "approach adopted, Betz said.

The new addition is to be added to the original historic library built with a $7,500 donation by Andrew Carnegie given on April 23,

1903, designed by Architect J. Lawrence Berry, and dedicated on Sept. 6, 1904.

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