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CHARLTON: Town dumps contractor

The town board has gone through a series of steps to try and work things out with the original builder. Last spring, they notified the bonding company about their concerns the construction wasn't moving along. In August, they called in Paul G. Carr, an engineering management professor from Cornell University, to assess the site.

In a 34-page evaluation, Carr reviewed every level of the project, from the opening of bids to scheduling to changes suggested by the builder that caused delays in the work. Of particular concern was the unfinished roof.

"It is obvious that until the roof is in place, the building is exposed to the elements, and a significant expenditure already made by the town is at risk," said Carr. "Until the roof trusses are delivered, and the town's investment is secured, the value of the work in place would be impossible to appraise."

As part of the legal process, the town board offered Schmidt and Schmidt an opportunity to present a recovery plan to show how they could potentially complete the project, but that plan was also vague and incomplete.

"We stayed with them as long as we could to stay within our budget range," said Grattidge. "But this board is committed to staying within its original budget. There's the potential for additional costs, but we're doing our best to have the bonding remain the same."

Calls to Schmidt and Schmidt in West Charlton went unanswered.

The new contractor, Rosch Brothers, started work on that same day, to get emergency work done to protect the partially constructed building from the upcoming winter weather, including putting on the roof to enclose the place.

After immediate concerns about saving the building from further damage, town board members will need to determine how to handle the defaulted contract.

"As far as litigation, it's hard to say what we'll need to do," said Grattidge. "We don't know if we'll have to go back out to bid.

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