OLD SAYBROOK – The Board of Selectmen voted to reject the recent bids for the proposed Katherine Hepburn Arts Center but to look at how the project can be done within monetary constraints.
Walter Hirsch, chairman of the committee overseeing the project, told the Board of Selectmen at the August 3 meeting that after discussions with Town Attorney Michael Cronin it was determined this was the “correct approach”.
In a previous Pictorial Gazette, Hirsch said that cancelling all bids, making changes in the project, and have them go out to bid again would be more expensive than having conversations with the lowest bidder about scaling down the project at a reduced cost.
The bids were over $1 million over budget, Hirsch said.
Rudolph Netsch Construction Company of Chester submitted the lowest bid at $3,845,000, while La Rosa Building Group of Meriden bid $4,356,000, Sarazin General Contractors of Windham bid at $4,451,240, and the highest bidder was ACMAT Corporation of New Britain at $4,750,000.
“We don’t want to sacrifice quality but there are things we can do to reduce costs,” Hirsch said.
“In a short period of time we will go out for rebid,” First Selectman Michael Pace said, adding one of the possible cuts involves the heating and cooling system but emphasizing this will not impact the quality of the project.
Pace said cuts were made to the heating and cooling system at the Acton Public Library but not to level affecting the comfort of patrons or staff.
Possible cuts mentioned by Hirsch could include cutting back on the mechanical system, hooking into the town hall backup generator, having landscaping done by volunteers, and scaling back on one of the additions.
Hirsch said he has contacted State Representative Marilyn Giuliano asking for state assistance with the project with half of potential funds going toward theater equipment and the other half for facility maintenance.
“Citizens should know it (the project) is moving forward,” Pace said, adding that several years ago, the town solved problems associated with renovations to the current Town Hall and as a result can handle the challenges regarding the theater.