By Bill Kirk
---- — Although the contract has been signed, construction on a new community center behind Doherty Middle School isn’t scheduled to start until as late as next March, town officials are now saying.
Cormier Youth Center, which has been delayed numerous times, appears to be on track for a late-winter/early spring construction start, said Bill Fahey, executive director of the Andover Youth Foundation.
“My heart was intent on having a ground-breaking in October,” he said. “But because the contract was not signed, and now it’s bad weather, the construction company isn’t doing anything until winter breaks.”
Over the summer, members of the youth center building committee vowed that the project would start by the first week in October. But a series of setbacks, including the withdrawal of the low bidder on the $5.8 million project, led to a number of delays.
Chris Huntress, chairman of the building committee, said last week he doesn’t care when the project starts. He just wants it done right.
“I’m more concerned about the quality of the job,” he said. “The most important thing is what we deliver.”
The second low bidder, Dagle Electric of Woburn, won the $4.6 million contract, which was signed by town officials last week. Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski said town employees have already held a pre-construction meeting with company officials.
“It’s happening,” Stapczynski said. “A construction trailer will be on-site before the end of the month. The contractor is getting everything ready so construction can start. A lot of work is going on, preparing for construction.”
Tom Wadkins, the town’s purchasing agent, confirmed ‘the contract is signed and we are ready.” Dagle is being paid $4,643,655.
Some of the work has already been done at the site. When Doherty Middle School was worked on over the summer, utility lines were brought in from Bartlet Street to the site of the youth center’s foundation. Trenches were even dug and crushed stone put down where the foundation will be built.
Construction on the foundation is expected to begin in March. Once the foundation is in, town officials say things should get moving at the site fairly quickly.
“The foundation is more complicated than others, so it has to be perfect,” Fahey said. “It’s not just putting a slab up. Two, pre-engineered buildings are being constructed off-site, and those buildings go on top of the foundation.”
Fahey said of the 21,000-square-foot building, 13,000 square feet involves pre-built structures that will be fastened to the foundation. The result is that the foundation has to exactly match up with the structure.
Andover Youth Foundation has its annual telethon March 19 and 20 and will be televising live interviews and ground-breaking activities remotely from the construction site as part of the fundraiser.
The telethon coincides with the first day of spring March 20. But Huntress said it’s possible construction could start even sooner than that.
“We’ll be on schedule regardless of the weather,” he said. “The better the weather, the faster we can move.”