SHAFTSBURY >> The Select Board has voted to have Morton Construction provide formal specifications for a town garage building, which other contractors will then have the opportunity to bid on.
The board came to this decision after meeting with a representative from Morton Construction, Steve Barden, last month. The board has asked Morton if the firm could build something along the lines of Rupert's new town garage, which Morton designed. Barden said drafting the specs would cost the town approximately $10,000, and that his company would be willing to sell those specs to any companies wishing to bid on the project.
"I think we've got to make this as public as possible," said board member Tony Krulikowski, "We have to have the ability for other contractors to come in and look at it, and offer bids on it."
"If we give Morton the contract and they provide the specs, we would then put it out, advertise it, just like any other public bid, and then whoever has interest in it could come buy the sets," explained town administrator David Kiernan, "At that juncture, say a couple bids are very close. Then, for a nominal amount of money, if we need to, we hire an architect or an engineer to review and make sure we have apples to apples."
Board member Art Whitman said he has spoken to a contractor who believes the work can be done at a lower price than Morton. "Morton's an excellent company," Whitman said, "but they've got a big staff, and they pay for that staff. I just think if somebody wants to look at it, we've got to leave it open."
"The big savings with us with Morton," said Kiernan, "is that we're not hiring architects and engineers to put this whole thing together. We know the building we want. So, the $10,000 to get construction-grade plans is cheap, based on my experience with these things."
Chairman Tim Scoggins dissented from the other members of the board. "I think we should go with Morton to build the building. I agree with Art and Tony that we would put this out to competitive bid if we had, as we did with the first garage proposal, an architect's drawing, and maybe a blueprint. But what we have is a building up the road, that we've all gone and seen. It's a Morton building. We want that building. I think it is kind of strange, in a way, to decide we want a Morton building and then go around trying to find somebody other than Morton to build it."
"There's nothing special about the Morton building," said Whitman, "Anyone can built that building."
The board voted 4-1 to have Morton draft the specs, which would then be put to a formal bid, with only Scoggins voting against.
"We're the only ones pushing for this garage," cautioned Whitman, "I haven't had any citizens come up to me and say, 'When are you going to get this garage?' We've got to sell this thing. It's got to be out in the open. I really think we have to tear down the buildings up there, have the site laid out, and say, 'This is where it's going to sit, right here.' This is going to have to be sold, I'm serious about this."
The board also voted to have MSK Engineering generate a site plan for the proposed site on North Road.
Board member Mitch Race pointed out that a site plan already exists for the previously proposed site, which is down the hill and away from the road from the current site. He tried to amend the motion to instead instruct MSK to give the board an estimate of what a new site plan would cost.
Scoggins pointed out the benefits of the new site, including better visibility and security, and said that a site plan should be done. The board voted down Race's amendment 2-3, with Race and Ken Harrington voting in favor, and then approved by a vote of 4-1 the motion to have MSK draft a site plan, with only Race voting against.
The Shaftsbury Select Board meets the first and third Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Cole Hall on Buck Hill Road in Shaftsbury. Full recordings of the meetings are available on Catamount Access Television, and on the station's YouTube page.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.