July 24, 2018
Since our dedicated volunteers and generous donors helped us reach our fundraising goal in December, 2017, we have worked with the Town to ensure all the required documents related to the Library’s building project are in order. A cost estimate was completed while working with Scott Simons Architects on refining the architectural drawings.
As of earlier this year, we had been on track with the budget, so we were shocked when we were informed in June that the cost of the project is now $2.2 million in excess of what had been originally budgeted in 2014. However, after consulting with experts and reading about the current conditions impacting the construction industry both locally and nationally, we found that our situation is not unique.
Several issues have led to this dramatic increase in cost. The first is the cost of materials. Tariffs, forest fires, and tree-eating beetles have caused lumber costs to increase up to 60%. Steel prices are also being influenced by tariffs. This increase in building costs is unprecedented and was unforeseen. The growth of the construction market in southern Maine has resulted in a lack of qualified subcontractors, in some areas of project work, who are willing or able to submit bids. Cost increases due to lack of subcontractors, a tight labor market, and escalation in material prices are happening throughout the state and are directly impacting this project. Nearby in Yarmouth, the projected cost of their proposed school building project increased from $35 million at the beginning of 2018 to $60 million in June.
Additionally, the current site has poor soil conditions resulting in the need for greater structural accommodations to meet the soil bearing capacity, meaning it will cost more to ensure the building will be structurally sound. These conditions also adversely affected costs associated with storm water management. Being located on a tight parcel, combined with the soil conditions means additional costs. We have heard repeatedly over the years that patrons, residents, and supporters want us to stay on site. As a result of remaining at our location, there are additional costs.
With this budget gap in mind, we have taken several necessary steps to bring us closer making our project feasible. First, we have gone back to the Library’s design looking for ways to reduce costs without impacting the integrity of the project. Our construction management company, Ledgewood Construction, has led us through this process of value engineering. We considered more than 40 separate structural and aesthetic features of the design; for example, a granite façade was exchanged for brick, and a different window vendor was identified. By making some difficult choices, we were able to identify changes that would yield a potential cost savings of $1.2 million.
That still leaves us with a gap of $1 million. We will continue to apply for grants and will strategically fundraise, and are hopeful that this will bear fruit. However, at the Town Council meeting on Monday, July 23, we asked the councilors to consider going to bond in November for the remaining amount. On August 1, at 5:30 pm at the library, we will present information about the project and welcome your feedback at that time.
Your support over the past years is greatly appreciated, and we hope you will continue to support us as we work to overcome this final hurdle.
President, Board of Trustees