Surprising bids for Town Hall work

Bids for the Town Hall renovation project came in roughly $1 million higher than expected by local officials. The seven construction bids, opened Tuesday, ranged from $5.16 million to just below $7 million. Town Manager Blythe Robinson told selectmen during the board’s meeting Tuesday night that the overall project costs, should the low bid be accepted, would still total $6.99 million. The higher-than-expected bids were the result of unforeseen structural issues that added at least $200,000 to the project’s cost, the selectmen were told. The heating and air conditioning costs were also $230,000 higher than expected. The higher bids have officials scrambling to find other funding options for the project, but the selectmen and Robinson said they still see the town’s Community Preservation Act program covering most of the cost. The historic building has been cramped for space for several years, and it is not handicapped accessible. Voters at Town Meeting on May 9 will be asked to approve the project. Plans call for the offices in Town Hall to be shifted into temporary quarters at Holy Angels Church for the duration of the work. The project is expected to take at least a year to complete.