Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 10, 2013

Roadblock for Youth Center

Bids cause snag in ground-breaking

The Cormier Youth Center, originally scheduled for ground-breaking this past Monday, has hit another speed bump, which could potentially turn into a roadblock.

Five bids for the center’s construction, ranging from $4.3 million to $5.4 million, were opened last week. But the low-bidder, G&R Construction of Quincy, apparently made a clerical error in its bid and has withdrawn from the process. The second-lowest bid, at $4.6 million, would put the project over-budget.

As a result, town officials, the Youth Center Building Committee and the Andover Youth Foundation are looking at other options, which could include re-bidding the whole project.

“We are examining all our alternatives,” Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski said. “This is a very organic process. We are looking at ways of making the second bidder or other options work.”

The second-lowest bidder, Dagle Electrical Construction Corp. of Melrose, put in a bid that was nearly $300,000 higher than the low-bidder, which puts the construction cost out of reach of the current budget.

The long-awaited center, first proposed some 20 years ago as a privately funded, $1.5-million facility in West Andover, has ballooned into a $5.6-million, public/private project near downtown’s Doherty Middle School.

Andrea Zaimes, vice chairwoman of the Andover Youth Foundation, said she thinks the project will get started soon.

“We’ll keep working the numbers,” she said. “We’re getting a shovel in the ground either way. The details of the funding are not final yet.”

Youth Foundation officials have said on numerous occasions that if funding comes up short, they could tap into other sources to make up the shortfall.

Even with the low bid, the group had to use a grant they had hoped to save for operating costs, Zaimes said.

The AYF got a $150,000, three-year grant from the Rogers Foundation in June. The group set aside that money and wasn’t intending to use it for construction costs.

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