CHARLTON: Town dumps contractor

For people having a new home constructed, the biggest fear is that their contractor won't finish the job on time. When it comes to building a new municipal center, that worry is multiplied many times over.

Town of Charlton officials have seen these worries come to fruition in their efforts to have a new town hall built. Slated to be completed on July 13, the town board hasn't done any ribbon cutting on the building that stands now without even a front door, or for that matter, a roof.

Instead, the board nullified the original building contract with Schmidt and Schmidt of West Charlton on Sept. 12.

At its Sept. 25 meeting, the town board voted to hire Rosch Brothers Builders of Latham to quickly shore up the unfinished building left exposed to the elements by the original company.

The project has followed a long and carefully orchestrated plan that went to town voters in November 2005 for approval. Town officials kept residents apprised of the project on the municipal Web site, which included a detailed timetable and drawings of the building.

Voters approved a 15,000- square-foot building at a cost of $2.5 million. In keeping with the town's rural flavor, the artist's rendering of the new town hall is a Colonial structure with two stories above ground, as well as a basement for storing records. The project went out to bid in May 2006, and the project construction phase was kicked off on July 13, 2006.

Town Supervisor Alan Grattidge said the decision to take the Schmidt company off the project was a tiring one, done in many stages to meet legal requirements.

I was trying to hold out the hand of friendship to the contractor, but he certainly let us down all the way around, said Grattidge. "It's a shame, because we waited so long and planned for this, got the financing, this contractor came in on bid, but we've had to issue a default of the contract. He's a general contractor, and he simply hasn't performed as needed."

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