Thursday, April 12, 2007

REQUESTING TOWN TO PURCHASE OUTDOOR FURNITURE FOR LIBRARY..UPDATE ON TRITON LETTER

I am requesting the town to purchase outdoor furniture for the temporary library. We have a beautiful patio overlooking a pond at town hall. If we place outdoor furniture at the patio it will make a beautiful reading area for library patrons. I have spoken to the acting director of the library. She indicated that the library does not have funds in their budget for this appropriation. I would be pleased to use town funds/not library funds for this since the furniture can be used by non library patrons (employees and residents as well as library patrons.
ON ANOTHER MATTER-- over a month ago TRITON promised to provide us with a written document promising to provide the town with 3 months of free services because of the delays in the library construction. Despite their verbal agreement we still have not received their written letter. I am asking for follow up.

3 comments:

hal samis said...

Dear Mr. Feiner:

It is a reasonable request for the Town to purchase outdoor furniture to be used on the Town Hall patio -- first by the Library as a reading area and eventually for Town staff and residents. The cost of this is minimal and even though I would not have expected the Library to bear the cost, I am surprised at the answer that they have no money in their budget if they were to be billed. I can assure you that I can find the cost of this furniture "squared" in their operating budget.

As for the other matter regarding the construction manager, Triton, this takes on all the trappings of a cruel joke upon the taxpayers.
First the Library Trustees select this firm because of their RFP response (this amount included in their own project cost estimate which was the Referendum $19.9 million) and their promise not to charge for pre-referendum work (this must have been appealing to the Library Trustees who didn't want to use the Library Fund balance should the Referendum fail). As soon as the Referendum passed, the $612,000 became $680,000 in their contract and my intutition says that this is the pre-Referendum charge coming home to roost.

Ok, now we're at $680,000 for work only through November 2007. In other words, the job was anticipated to end late this year.
Even though construction has just begun, the Library Trustees and the Town Council's fall guy, Al Regula, still maintain that the project is not behind schedule or over budget. Even if they have to open without furniture or technology.

So in December 2006, when the Town Council becomes "aware" because Samis is rubbing their face in it continuously, at a work session on the project, Triton "offers" to work January, February and March 2008 at no charge to the Town. Subsequent to this offer and despite my reminders to you and the Town Council and Tim Lewis, the written acknowledgement of this offer never materializes. Even at the Town Board meeting two weeks ago, Ms. Barnes volunteers
"I'm sure the agreement will be coming".

Now there are additional matters at hand which also get ignored in all of the enthusiasm that the project "appears" to be moving ahead. First of all, Triton will earn an additional $21,000 for December 2007. This brings their remuneration now to $701,000. Next, the construction is widely believed to last two years which means that if it should end December 2008. Since Triton has not "offered" to perform the work for April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December 2008 (end of two years) for free, these 9 months @ $21,000 per month will cost the Library project an additional $189,000 bringing the total to $890,000 (allowing 3 months free). So what was estimated by Triton itself has become $278,000 higher, an astonishing 45% increase over their own estimate for their own work. Makes one pause. Not the pause that refreshes. And where in the "we're on budget, budget" is the funding for just this item's $278,00 increase?

Of course construction could end before December 2008 and it could just as likely end after December 2008.

One thing that I remember from reading the original RFPs for Construction Manager was that Triton was not the low bidder. It was just the only one that said it wasn't going to charge for pre-referendum expenses. Then too there were bidders that said "our total may be higher than others but we have included everything that other firms bill separately for as extras...like construction trailers".

And guess who is paying for the project's two construction trailers?

Finally, why is the project behind schedule. Well a good deal of the blame must be shouldered by the Construction Manager Triton because, after all, that is their job, to manage. Think "professional manager" if you will. A familiar ring tone from elsewhere.

And two years later, their management has not yet yielded a solution to the geothermal drilling dilemma. In other words, we have a project going ahead even though the HVAC system is unresolved.

Another delay was encountered when the Architect did not deliver the site plan in October 2005 as promised until March 2006. The site plan was needed, not only for various construction related needs, but also to appear before the Planning and Zoning Boards for requested variances.

Still another delay was caused by the Construction Manager in not inspecting the old Town Hall for suitability as a temporary Library location during construction. When they did so 8 months later and saw the problems before them and the costs involved, the plan was abandoned, setting in motion the long and fruitless search for a usable alternative. Having no back-up location was the fault of the Library Board.

It costs money for firms to win new business. One way to increase cash flow is to make existing business more profitable and that is what I suspect has been the agenda at Triton. $612,000 vs $890,000, what does that say to taxpayers?

This is just one example why an independent Project Manager should have been engaged.

Finally, I see this situation akin to that when a would-be customer goes to a store and the store doesn't want to honor the advertised price. The outraged customer fights with the saleperson, fights with the store manager and likely "wins" in the end. The win being the store "gives" the customer the item for the advertised price.

What has the customer won? The right to be a customer and pay the price that the store advertised because the store wanted to sell the item at a mark-up that they were voluntarily to provide. The whole battle was to buy what was advertised at the price advertised.

Similarly, the "battle" with Triton is to give them more money than they had even contracted for. They are in the business of selling their time and on this project, not only have they been given the opportunity to sell the Town more of this time: they have also caused the need.

But Mr. Regula says that everything is proceeding smoothly and, Mr. Regula is "an honorable man".

Anonymous said...

Contact the several patio stores in the town. Each one would likely be willing to donate a patio set for the summertime (of course with a gratitude sign posted).

Anonymous said...

We need a nicer library reading room area. Excellent suggestion, Mr. Supervisor