With construction about halfway complete on the new West Tisbury Library project, town leaders raised concerns this week about a rapidly dwindling contingency fund for the project.
The $6 million project has already used up half of a $200,000 reserve in the budget. Construction began in December and there is a little less than $100,000 left.
“No matter how you roll the dice, $100,000 is not a lot of money, it disappears real quick,” selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd said at the selectmen’s meeting Wednesday. “It doesn’t take long for that money to be gone. I’m uncomfortable. Things could happen and that’s going to disappear.”
The money was spent on change orders relating to engineering studies, building an underground vault required by power company NStar, tree removal around the parking lot and removing invasive species. Mr. Manter said the building committee should try to increase the contingency fund by finding other cost savings in the project budget.
“The thing we don’t want is to compromise the quality of the construction,” Mr. Manter said. “We’re all supportive of the library project but you should look elsewhere in the budget.”
Selectman Richard Knabel added his concerns.
“You don’t want to skimp on the finishing details because the finishing details are what get the wear and tear and create the aesthetic impression of the building,” he said.
Library director Beth Kramer told the board that she was reassured by the operations project manager for the site, Richard Marks.
“[Mr. Marks] explained that the contingency fund is right where he expected it would be and he’s not concerned about it,” she said. “The highest use of [the contingency money] would be at the beginning when we were doing the underground work.”
Foundation work is complete and framing has begun. A “topping off ceremony” for the highest beam is planned for the week of June 26. Ms. Kramer said there are fewer unknowns going forward.
The project is currently one week behind schedule; two weeks ago it was about a month behind schedule, she said. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year.
Hunter Moorman, chairman of the West Tisbury Library Foundation who attended the meeting, said the foundation will help if needed.
“The library foundation is committed to this project, body and soul,” he said.
To date, the foundation has raised $1.7 million, including $1.5 million to help match a $3 million state grant program. Town voters appropriated $1.5 million. The foundation contributed $175,000 for a filtration system in the parking lot and a hardwood floor for the interior of the library and $100,000 to back the rebate for state LEED certification. Mr. Moorman said the goal is to raise $300,000 in 2013. The plan calls for putting the money toward landscaping, furniture, fixtures and equipment, but it could go to the contingency fund instead.
“If there are essential needs that arise for the contingency fund that neither the building committee nor the town can meet, we are prepared to make those funds available to the town should they need them,” Mr. Moorman said. “I hope that’s a reassurance,” he added.
“I feel much better now,” Mr. Manter said. “I can’t say enough about the foundation and the leadership and the enthusiasm from the people in the community and beyond. It really is something.”