The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 28, 2008

Library chooses Lerner Ladds, and Bartels for design

The Library Building Restoration Committee met on Thursday, November 20, for a final review of the three finalists for the design of the Gleason Library restoration, and unanimously voted to recommend the firm of Lerner, Ladds and Bartels, Inc. It was noted the firm has extensive experience working with town governments and libraries, has the capability to deal with a variety of diagnostic and design problems, and received excellent reviews from references. After some discussion, McGinley, Kalsow and Associates was ranked second, with CBI Consulting, Inc. a close third. The three design finalists had been culled from 12 responses to the original request for qualifications. The project will address cracks and water leakage in the 150-year-old library facade.

Each member present at the meeting, including Library Director Angela Mollet, Neal Emmer, Bob Koning, Al Innamorati, Bob Hinton, Sally Swift, Elizabeth Barnett, and Library Trustees Priscilla Stevens, Dale Ryder and Ann Rosas offered consistent opinions on Lerner Ladds, and Bartels. Mollett “was impressed by all three” finalists, but felt Lerner Ladds was especially strong, inspiring confidence in their skill set and responsiveness to community input. Emmer was impressed that the firm offered water testing to determine the source of the problem, versus a mere visual assessment, while Stevens pointed to the public outreach aspect of Lerner Ladds’ proposal as particularly good. Barnett noted the range of the firm’s capabilities and dubbed them “best qualified to deal with the situation” which “could be a simple project or may be complex. We really don’t know.”

While the committee was unanimous in its choice of Lerner Ladds for first place, ranking the other two firms was more difficult. McGinley, Kalsow and Associates had not responded to a second request for information, and Emmer questioned their interest in the project. Koning agreed that the non-response seemed “a graceful way to back out.” But Mollet preferred Kalsow, and called CBI “a close third.” Stevens also preferred Kalsow, while noting “all three are qualified to do this job.” Swift said she relied on a “gut feel of how it would be to work with the project architect” and was very impressed with Wendell Kalsow, principal of McGinley, Kalsow and Associates. But she questioned, “Would we have his time?”

Dale Ryder suggested that Kalsow be recontacted to answer the questions about availability. Although she had ranked Kalsow third, if the firm could satisfy the committee on that question, “That would bump them up to second.” Emmer questioned the fairness of special outreach, noting, “We gave them the opportunity. . . and they didn’t do it.” Koning agreed that “If they really wanted this job they would have responded.” But Barnett said she had been put off by the emphasis CBI placed on matching roof slates, disregarding the high expense. She felt this was “symbolic of not understanding the constraints of town funding.”

Emmer questioned the need for a ranking, saying, “I’m highly optimistic we’ll work out something with Lerner Ladds,” but was informed that the state Inspector General requires it. Mollett observed that if Kalsow were chosen and could not meet the schedule, “we’ll find out quickly if we have to go to CBI.” In the end, Kalsow won the second-place slot with six votes. Mollett agreed to draft a letter to the Selectmen, and a negotiating team consisting of Koning, Innamorati, Barnett, Emmer, Rosas, Ryder, Stevens and Mollett was formed.

Next steps

Further discussion ensued regarding the allocation of funding. Of the $40,000 approved at Town Meeting last spring for the project, up to $35,000 will be made available with $5,000 retained for contingencies. Since the scope of the design work is unknown, a strategy will have to be developed for avoiding paying out the whole amount if the project is found to be smaller than expected.

Stevens summarized the process to date: “We were fortunate to have a number of really good responses. These three firms are really outstanding.” Lerner Ladds will be informed of the choice this week, and required to respond by December 2. It is hoped a proposal will be ready by December 17. ∆

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