BUCKFIELD — Selectmen voted Tuesday evening to request bids for a 3,000-square-foot Quonset hut-type building to store sand and salt.

It’s one option being considered to deal with the shed that’s been closed for two years because it’s structurally unsafe.

The 100- by 55-foot wood and concrete building was constructed in 2010 for $160,000 to hold 3,000 cubic yards of material. The 8-foot high concrete walls have bowed out, mainly in the middle of the long walls and are cracked, Town Manager Joe Roach said previously.

Last June, voters approved spending $100,000, including engineer fees, to fix the shed. To date, between $4,000 and $5,000 has been paid to A.E. Hodsdon Engineers of Waterville, Roach said.

On Tuesday, board Vice Chairwoman Martha Catevenis made a motion to get proposals for a Quonset hut. She was concerned that the cost of stabilizing the building would be almost as much as the original cost to build it.

Voting to get bids were Catevenis and Chairwoman Tina Brooks. Selectman Cheryl Coffman voted against the measure.

At their Feb. 25 meeting, selectmen authorized Roach to approach the lowest bidder of the stabilization project, H.E. Callahan Construction of Auburn, to see if it could be done for less money. H.E. Callahan originally bid $117,900 for the job and A.E. Hodsdon Engineers of Waterville had been hired for engineering for $15,700, totaling $133,600.

On Tuesday, Roach presented selectmen with revamped costs, which were lowered to $108,800. The breakdown includes H.E. Callahan for $78,870 for contracting and construction costs, A.E. Hodsdon for $15,700 for engineering, and the town Public Works Department for $14,230.

Roach estimated the town’s cost for the project would include Public Works employees performing earth and carpentry work, materials and a lift rental.

Resident Matt Whitney wanted to make sure Public Works employees would have enough time to take care of the summer roadwork and this project.

Catevenis and former Selectman Del Dunn wanted to know what guarantees would be in place that the stabilization project, which includes installing concrete buttresses on the outside walls, new fasteners to strengthen the connections between the wood and concrete walls and sealing concrete cracks with high-pressure grout, would be enough to make it safe and useable.

“I did not envision having to ask Public Works to assist with this project,” Roach said, adding he trusted his department heads to continue to provide services to the town.

Roach noted the contractor would be responsible for their work.

“The engineer is going to be keeping a close eye on this.  . . . He is going to make sure the work is going to be done according to the spec so it can be occupied again and the insurance company will cover it again.”

Coffman explained why she didn’t want to change course with the project.

“I thought this was our opportunity now to get this fixed so we don’t have to subject our employees and our product to the elements,” she said.

Sand and salt have been stored outside under tarps for the past two years, and Coffman worried changing course would delay the project by another year.

Roach said that ideally, selectmen would hold a special town meeting to ask for the $8,800 that is overbudget for this project, but this isn’t an option with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Other options include overdrafting the Public Works Complex account by $8,800 and asking voters at town meeting in June to authorize the overdraft, or possibly use the town’s contingency account for the expense.

“If we overdraw the account and the town does not ratify it, the taxpayers could press [this], take us to court, and you and the others and I would be fiduciarily responsible for that overdraft,” Catevenis told Brooks.

“Yes, I am aware,” Brooks responded.

Roach will send out a request for proposals and bring them to selectmen at a future meeting.

In other news, selectmen set two public hearings to be held before their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, April 21, which will be held via Zoom. The first is at 5:30 p.m. for the Disbursement Warrant Ordinance and the second is at 6 p.m. for the Adult Use Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance. Both ordinances will be placed on the warrant for annual town meeting in June and the marijuana ordinance will be reviewed by Planning Board and legal advisors.


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