The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 30, 2010

Gleason Library renovation in home stretch, under budget

Springtime rains used to mean drenched carpets at the 115-year-old Gleason Library. But this spring, which saw record-setting rainfall, the interior was dry as a bone. “The timing couldn’t have been better for the building project to be complete,” says Director Angela Mollet. The massive renovation, covering everything from roof to façade to foundation, solved a decades-long issue with water seepage, preserving this town landmark for many years to come.

Moreover, the Trustees expect that they will return to Carlisle at least $100,000, and perhaps as much as $200,000, of the $775,000 allocated for the construction. The project, approved at Annual Town Meeting 2009, was financed through a transfer from Community Preservation Act Funds and any unused amount will be returned.

It is not often that a building project comes in under budget, especially one with the complicated issues of the Gleason. Mollet credits luck and a project team that worked well together. The oversight provided by Project Liaison Mark Ellis was key, says Mollet. “He had run big projects as a contractor” and is a licensed engineer. Each day, he was on-site to monitor progress, document the work performed and resolve any issues that arose. Ellis notes that he had “daily communication with someone from the library” and that each week a meeting was held with the Gleason Library Building Restoration Implementation Committee (BRIC).

Mollet also applauds general contractor Consigli Construction Company Inc. of Milford. “We were very fortunate the lowest bidder had a very strong reputation” in historic preservation, she says. “Our concerns about quality went down dramatically.” Consigli’s previous work had included the Crane Estate and the chapel at Trinity College.

Consigli’s winning bid for the Gleason project was $481,000, significantly less than expected, and much less that the $729,000 requested by the highest bidder. “They wanted the job,” says Ellis. “It was a high-profile restoration project that fit their bill.” Of the $481,000 contract, $123,000 went to subcontractor Stanley Roofing Company. Riggs Contracting, Inc., a Consigli company, was the sub-contractor for masonry.

“The town got a lot for their money,” adds Ellis. “There were a couple of change orders, but Consigli didn’t have their hand out. They went above and beyond quality-wise.” Mollet says the aesthetics of the building required a special attention to matching century-old materials such as masonry and slate. Consigli was able to reuse some of the existing roofing slate, which saved thousands of dollars. The slate colors are now uniform, says Mollet, whereas previously, a series of roof repairs had left a patchwork appearance. “This is quality work,” she concludes. “We’re very happy. We saved money while remaining true to the historic nature.”

Ellis notes that one especially difficult problem area was the top of the building which had no flashing between the granite coping on the gable and the brick. This had led to significant water damage, requiring work on both the inner and outer walls. “You could stand at the base of the building and see bowing,”says Mollet. Extra work was also involved in repointing the entire building. Fortunately, this was somewhat balanced by less work in the basement, where water damage was more isolated than expected.

Landscapting will complete

the project

The project began in September 2009 and will be finished within the next week or two. Ellis says the original planned finish date of December was optimistic. “This was an involved job, with a lot of pieces to the puzzle and a lot of men on site. ” In addition, he adds, “The weather did not help” as the foundation work could not be done in the rain. Mollet notes that the desire of the Trustees to keep the library open for regular hours limited the time within which construction work could be performed and required extra fencing and security.

The landscaping is in progress this week. It will include changes to the grade of the lawn and walkway to make water flow away from the building. New bushes will be added to prevent jumping from the wall. Finally, the irrigation system will be hooked up. Mollet gives a nod of thanks to Seawright Daylilies and the Carlisle Garden Club for helping preserve and replant some of the old perennials. She also notes the patience of library patrons and staff, who were inconvenienced during construction.

“This was an extremely complicated project with a lot of moving parts,” summarizes Ellis. “I think it went extremely smoothly.” He adds, “You had a great contractor in Consigli. The architects (Lerner, Ladds and Bartels, Inc.) were easy to deal with and had good plans. The Trustees knew what they wanted and they got it.”

Everyone worked very well together,” says Mollet, including contractors, architects, project liaison, Trustees, and town officials. “It was an interesting project. Everyone took pride in this beautiful building done with quality workmanship.” She adds, “I hope people continue to enjoy it and see it as a historic landmark for the community. “

On Saturday May 22 from 1 to 3 p.m. the Gleason Library will hold a celebration of the building restoration completion. Music, food, and activities are in the planning process. Watch the Mosquito for details. ∆

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