Construction will begin soon on the new Edgartown Library, with the selectmen Monday awarding a general construction contract to a Rhode Island company.
The board voted unanimously to award a $7.3 million contract to Maron Construction Company Inc., which submitted the lowest of four bids the town received.
The vote earned a round of applause from library trustees and building committee members at the meeting.
Project manager Rick Pomroy of Pomroy Associates said Maron Construction, which is based in Providence, R.I., was thoroughly vetted. “We feel that the bid is a good bid and they’re suitable for this project,” he said.
Other bids have come in for subcontracting work. The new library, about 15,000 square feet, will be built next to the Edgartown School; the cost is about $11 million. The goal for completion is June 2015.
A discussion about library construction options again raised the issue of money raised for the project by the Edgartown Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Last spring, selectmen and library trustees sparred with the foundation over if and when it would give the town the money raised for the library.
Members of the library foundation said at the time that they intended to donate the money, though there was no set time frame, and they had concerns about whether the project would be completed. They also asked for naming rights for donations.
The selectmen and the library trustees criticized the organization’s lack of transparency and the trustees voted to ask the library foundation to cease raising money on the library’s behalf.
On Monday, Mr. Pomroy said that the library construction bid included four alternative prices for additional work: an upgrade from carpeting to hardwood flooring on the first floor; high acoustical ceiling panels in the community room and student craft area; a radiant floor heating system in several parts of the building; and upgrades to the landscaping plan.
He said the library building design committee was in favor of spending an extra $114,000 on the first two options. But he said the budget has about $100,000 contingency remaining.
While Mr. Pomroy said he agreed the first two alternatives are important, “I feel that we would be better off to be going into this with a contingency rather than going in with a zero base budget.”
There was some discussion about whether funds from the sale of the Warren House could be used for the project. Town accountant Kimberly Kane said there are laws governing what can be done with that money, and it must go toward reducing bond debt. Town administrator Pamela Dolby said they would look into what can be done with the money.
Others noted that the town would be eligible for grants of up to $250,000 because of LEED certification, though that won’t come through until after library completion.
Discussion then turned to money raised by the Edgartown Library Foundation.
Library building committee member Chris Scott said Monday that it was time to resolve the issue, which has gone to the state attorney general’s office for review.
“It’s unfortunate and unnecessary in my opinion that it had to come to that, but nevertheless the fact of the matter is that the public gave $450,000 . . . for the betterment of the Edgartown Public Library,” Mr. Scott said. “Coincidentally that is exactly the amount that would give us . . . the comfort zone that we need.”
“I understand what you’re saying but you can’t count your pennies until you’ve got them,” selectman Margaret Serpa said.
“We are in conversations with the town attorney regarding giving them a directive,” library trustee Deanna Ahearn-Laird said.
According to the Edgartown Library Foundation’s 2012 tax filings obtained by the Gazette this week, the foundation ended last year with $452,365 in cash, savings and investments. In 2012, the foundation raised $32,160 from fundraising events and spent $36,617. The organization reported receiving $4,156 in contributions, gifts and grants in 2012; it had total revenue of $981 and expenses of $11,425, for a loss of $10,444.
Mr. Pomroy said the town has 90 days to make a decision about the project alternatives. Construction could begin soon; he told the Gazette in November that construction could start within 30 days of the bid award.