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New contract awarded to new Mather Center general contractor

Published 1:52 pm, Thursday, September 19, 2013
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A new contract was awarded to Gar-San Corp. of Berlin to complete the Mather Center construction after the previous general contractor, Dappreio Construction, showed signs of financial weakness, according to Selectman David Campbell.

"Toward the end of 35 Leroy, they weren't paying their subcontractors well and were showing signs of financial problems," Campbell, who also is chairman of the 35 Leroy Ave./Mather Center Building Committee, said. He said when the committee "got wind" that subcontractors were not being paid, it took steps to protect the town and rebid for a general contractor. According to Campbell, Dappreio had not paid the subcontractors for "odds and ends" at the end of the project.

"What's too bad is that they did a good job," Campbell said, referring to the work at the new Board of Education building in the old town library.

Dappreio bid $2.5 million on the 35 Leroy Ave. half and $3.6 million on the Mather Center half, for a total of $6.1 million. The company has previously completed projects at Western Connecticut State University, Stamford Hospital and Dinosaur BBQ in Stamford. Dappreio has an "A-" rating from the Better Business Bureau and has had no complaints in the last three years, according to the BBB.

Attempts to reach Dappreio were unsuccessful.

The need to rebid for a general contractor will delay the project six to eight weeks, Campbell said, and will push back the opening of the center to February.

Bids for the new contractor were due Aug. 9, according to the committee's meeting minutes, and a meeting to meet with Gar-San, which was the low bidder, was set for Aug. 15. The contract was awarded in early September. Gar-San's bid came in at $3.1 million, which is within $10,000 of the original lowest bids, Campbell said. The company is in charge of the Western Connecticut State University White Hall stair renovation and construction at the Metro-North State Street station in New Haven.

The shuffle involves the Board of Education moving to the old library at 35 Leroy Ave. and the senior center moving to the Town Hall Annex and being renamed the Mather Center. It will cost approximately $7 million. The future use of the senior center, at 30 Edgerton St., is still up in the air.

The town still owes Dappreio Construction roughly $250,000, Campbell said, but will not pay it until financially everything is in order to ensure that no one is overpaid.

"To protect the town, there was no way we were going to get involved with a company that was having financial problems," Campbell said.

The company still owes money to their subcontractors, Campbell said.

While there was pressure to move the Board of Education into the building at 35 Leroy Ave. by a certain date, Campbell said the pressure to move the senior center is not as strong.

During the interim, the town has hired subcontractors to start the demolition and asbestos abatement inside the Town Hall Annex.

"All they need to do is put it back together," Campbell said.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews