Opera House bids vary by $200,000


NORWAY — More than $200,000 separated the high and low bidders for the Opera House stabilization project, according to proposals opened in the Municipal Building on Thursday afternoon.

Chabot’s Construction of Greene had the lowest bid of $156,550, which included $40,900 for the demolition and abatement and $100,000 for carpentry and shoring.

Next was Ganneston Construction of Gorham with $286,600, including $71,024 for the demolition and abatement work and $160,445 for the carpentry and shoring work.

The highest bidder was Bancroft Contracting of Paris for $398,900, including $125,500 for demolition and abatement work and $207,000 for carpentry and shoring work.

Town Manger David Holt said the town had budgeted $175,000 to $200,000 for the project. Plans are to use $150,000 from a Community Development Block Grant, $15,000 of a $200,000 donation from Bea and Bill Damon and another $50,000 from a Norway Maine Opera House Corp. donation to pay for the project.

Six firms took out bid documents earlier this month, according to project engineer Alfred Hodson III and owner of Resurgence Engineering and Preservation Inc. of Portland, but only three companies submitted bids by the Oct. 28 deadline. Holt said he and Hodson will analyze the bids.

“Our job is to find the lowest responsible bidder,” said Holt, who will present Hodson’s bid recommendation to the Board of Selectmen. That action is expected to take place at the board’s next meeting Nov. 4 with the contract signing on Nov 10, Holt said. Construction is expected to begin immediately.

The low bidder, Chabot’s Construction, is well known in the area for its work on the Lewiston Public Library, the Auburn Public Library and the Children’s Museum in Portland during the last 15 years. One of the criteria that Hodson said he looked for in the bid documents was previous demolition and stabilization work on historical structures.

Holt said, “This is a little unusual. This worries me more because we don’t do this all the time.” The work involves keeping the back wall of the historic 1894 building on Main Street from collapsing.

A portion of sagging roof on the three-story brick edifice collapsed Sept. 21, 2007, due to water pooled there. Engineers discovered rotted roof trusses.

The town took the building this year from Bitim Enterprises of Londonderry, N.H., after owner Barry Mazzaglia failed to stabilize it.

Hodson said one of the most difficult parts of the project will be to remove the top eight feet of masonry in the back wall, which is 100 feet long and extremely unstable. It will be removed once the trusses are stabilized, according to bid specifications.

“It’s going to be an adventure,” said Hodson of the work that is expected to be completed by the end of December. The goal is to stabilize it for at least five years while other efforts to develop a renovation and future use plan are developed.

“There are so many ways to approach this,” he said.

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