Subcontractors on Rockingham library project sue town
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | February 08,2013
BELLOWS FALLS — Several of the subcontractors on the stalled $2.9 million renovation project of the Rockingham Public Library have filed lawsuits directly against the town.
Stephen Ankuda, Rockingham’s town attorney, said Thursday the subcontractors are suing the town for negligence for not making sure the town’s required performance and payment bond from Baybutt Construction Co. was in place on the library project.
Ankuda said Lawrence and Lober, a Bellows Falls electrician, and Hodgkins & Sons, both of which had earlier filed liens against the library and Baybutt, also sued the town.
“It’s expected that the town would be sued,” said Ankuda, who said the subcontractors were also seeking an attachment for the money the town owes Baybutt. Rockingham had paid Baybutt $21,000 for a performance and payment bond, but Baybutt never purchased the bond, which is a form of insurance policy commonly used on large construction projects.
Ankuda said the town does owe Baybutt money for the construction project, but exactly how much won’t be determined until after the project is complete, and a final assessment is made.
“That has yet to be determined,” he said. He said the town signed a contract with Baybutt, not with the subcontractors.
Ankuda said all five members of the Rockingham Select Board on Dec. 20, 2011 signed a $2.5 million contract with Baybutt for the library project. Those included board members Thomas MacPhee, Peter Golec, Josh Hearne, Ann DiBernardo and Matthew Trieber. Also signing were Town Manager Timothy Cullenen, Jan Mitchell-Love, chairwoman of the Rockingham Library Trustees, and Celina Houlne, the chief librarian.
Under the terms of the contract, the town’s architect, Sheerr McCrystal Palson LLC of Concord, N.H., would act as the town’s project manager, Ankuda said. He said currently the architect now has a “different role” in the renovation project, but declined to elaborate.
So far, the town has paid Baybutt about $900,000, Ankuda said.
Things started falling apart on the library renovation project in mid-December, when subcontractors walked off the job because Baybutt wasn’t paying them. Last month, the town sent a formal letter to Baybutt, terminating the December 2011 contract.
Cullenen said Thursday the Rockingham Select Board had earlier in the week expanded the work order currently being completed by Engelberth Construction at the library. He said Engelberth would now be completing the roof at the library, as well as putting in the new, energy efficient windows.
Cullenen said that Engelberth was working hard to “button up” the library, and said they were hard at work early Thursday morning, in apparent preparation for a large snowstorm expected to hit Vermont this morning.
Engelberth is working on a time and materials contract, Cullenen said, and the Select Board had agreed to expand the scope of work Engelberth was originally hired to do, after Baybutt stopped work.
The manager said that the town had contacted four construction firms — including Engelberth — about finishing up the work on the library to gauge interest. All the firms were interested, he said.
He said he expected the interview process on the new contract would be held in three to four weeks, when the town had a firm idea of what still needed to be done.
When Baybutt stopped work, the town had estimated that 40 percent of the ambitious renovation project was complete.
Cullenen said Engelberth had convinced several of the subcontractors who had walked off the job to return to work, including firms that worked on the roof, interior framing and windows.