Steel beams and an additional $11,000 are needed for the elevator installation.

MECHANIC FALLS – Engineers say builders need to pound two steel beams into the ground beside the Town Hall before an elevator can be installed as the centerpiece of a $675,000 renovation.

This may add another three weeks and $11,250 to an already strained budget, Town Manager Dana Lee said. The figure is only an estimate, and Lee hopes to find a way to shrink the cost.

The problem is the sandy soil around the 75-year-old building.

For the elevator to be installed, a shaft must be dug 4 feet beneath the building. Engineers knew it would be difficult, because sandy walls are likely to crumble into any hole. Builders figured a nearby foundation wall would help with the problem.

However, when they dug into the basement floor, they discovered that the foundation wall disappears in the spot chosen for the shaft.

On July 8, engineers for contractor H.E. Callahan and the town visited the site.

Their solution: drive the two beams into the ground to replace the diminishing foundation wall. The soil would be further strengthened by support shoring and injections of a viscous material into the nearby soil to avoid crumbling.

The biggest piece is the steelwork, for which pile drivers would need to be used. That cost is estimated at $7,800.

The town set aside a modest contingency to handle the unforeseen problems. Money’s tight but the needs will be met, Lee said.

The renovation project was originally slated to cost nearly $1.3 million. Town leaders chafed at the number, so they cut the project’s scope, limiting the work to the building’s major systems and the installations needed to meet fire and accessibility codes, such as the elevator and sprinklers. The roof, aging windows and insulation will all go untouched.

If workers can begin the new plan by the end of the week, the elevator installation would be delayed by about three weeks.

However, Lee stressed that the delay will have no effect on the scheduled completion of the building in February. Contractors already planned to do the work in phases, ending with the renovation of the first floor, where the police department is located.

Work on the elevator shaft would be completed before other work is done, Lee said.

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