An artists' rendering of planned renovations and additions to the Bass Harbor Memorial Library. The only bid for the project came in higher than expected, so the library's trustees will revise the plans. IMAGE COURTESY OF BASS HARBOR LIBRARY

Library build delayed

TREMONT — Even though the foundation work for a renovation and addition project at the Bass Harbor Memorial Library building will be free, the library’s trustees are set to revise plans for the project in order to cut costs.

Last September, the library’s board of trustees launched a capital campaign to raise funds for an addition to the library. By November, they had met their goal of $350,000 and decided to continue raising funds.

Plans for the addition include a 770-square foot children’s room. Funds for the project will also be used for renovations to the original structure.

When the trustees were ready to put the project out to bid, only one came in. It was from MDI Property Management and Maintenance.

“The one bid we received substantially exceeded the resources we had available,” said Pete Madeira, chairman of the library board of trustees. “We feel we have to modify the specs.”

An agreement from Doug Gott and Sons, Inc. to construct a foundation for the building as a donation was presented to selectmen at their Monday meeting.

Madeira, library treasurer Mike Hays and project Clerk of the Works Mel Atherton asked selectmen to approve their plan to have architect Jeri Spurling revise the plans.

“Why wouldn’t you work with the bidder?” Selectman Howard “Howdy” Goodwin asked them. “Usually you work with the one bidder. It isn’t fair.”

Goodwin made a motion to work with the existing bidder. The motion died on the table.

Selectman Mike Mansolilli, who owns MDI Property Management and Maintenance, took a seat in the audience, recusing himself from the board for the discussion.

Project Manager Jeff Crafts spoke to the board about the company’s bid proposal. He pointed out several adjustments the company had already made to their original proposal.

“We’ve made cuts of $57,000 to our bid,” said Crafts. “The library is getting this at cost. I’d be glad to do some more drawings for you. We’re on your team… It makes zero sense to go back to the beginning.”

Plan revisions are expected to take at least a month, according to the library board members. They also stated their surprise that the project had only one company bid for the job.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t put it back out to bid because there have been significant changes,” said library trustee Elaine Eaton. “I don’t like the way this is going.”

A delay would not negatively affect the project, Atherton said, because the foundation could be laid as soon as possible. Building can happen throughout the year once the plans are finished, he added.

“You’re not going to get a better price,” Mansolilli said. “You’re not going to find anyone else that will do that for the town, ever. I’ve put a lot of time and money into this already. A lot.”

Selectman McKenzie Jewett said it seemed unfair to force the library board to accept a bid if the two parties were unable to reach an agreement. Chairman Kevin Buck said he didn’t feel it was the select boards’ decision.

“I’d have a very hard time, personally, going against the library board’s recommendations,” said Buck. “You guys have raised all the money and I don’t feel like I have the right to tell you how to spend it.”

Crafts asked if the two parties could continue discussions to try and reach an agreement. Hays and Madeira asked selectmen to support them going back out to bid.

When the project went out to bid in June, Town Manager Chris Saunders said, it had a clear plan. “What they want tonight is for you to allow them to go back to the architect,” he said.

“What I’d like to see is you guys say, ‘Gee, guys, get your plan together’,” said Atherton.

Hays agreed the library trustees would bring a revised plan before the Select Board when it was complete.

“I think at this point, going ahead and making the changes you need to do is my recommendation,” said Buck.

The board did not take any action on the matter.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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