Mechanic Falls councilors and volunteers have found enough cuts to continue plans for repairs.

MECHANIC FALLS – One week before temporary offices are to arrive on its front lawn, leaders have signed contracts to renovate the aging Town Hall.

“We have squeezed the time as far as it could go,” Town Manager Dana Lee said Tuesday. “Now, we know it’s real.”

The $670,000 project, debated for nearly a decade, stalled earlier this month after contractors submitted bids charging more money for the renovation than the town had approved.

The lowest of the three bids, from H.E. Callahan of Auburn, surpassed the budgeted amount by $89,000.

So, members of a citizen advisory group, the Town Council and Lee have trimmed pieces of the renovation.

Among the cuts were:

• $2,500 for windows to a new emergency stairwell

• $9,800 for substituting wood for the planned steel and concrete staircase

• $7,500 for a less expensive wiring system

• $8,000 for plainer doors and trim

• $13,000 for using town trucks and landfill for waste.

Savings were also found in the deal with Schiavi Homes, which is leasing the modular building that the town will use for its temporary offices. The item was budgeted at $38,000 but will likely cost $10,000 less.

Had the cuts not been found, the project could have been delayed or even canceled, Lee said. It worked, though. In most cases, items were given modest cuts, forcing a less expensive alternative to be sought for the same item.

“There are lots and lots more cuts,” said Lee.

The culprit behind the last-minute change was an underestimate of the cost of the new elevator. A shaft needs to be created and dug about 4 feet beneath the bottom floor. However, the task is complicated because the ground is unstable there. It crumbles and falls.

Renovations are due to begin in the first week of June.

Changes at the Town Hall are scheduled to begin even sooner. Excavation for the temporary offices could begin by Friday. The modular building is due to arrive on May 23, one week later.

On Thursday and Friday, May 29 and 30, the Town Hall is scheduled to close while workers move their operations into the new building. They will reopen on June 2.

The entire renovation could be completed as early as Christmas, Lee said. The upgrade includes new heating and electrical systems and handicapped accessibility.

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