EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 5, 2013

More funds funneled to youth center

Construction bids slightly higher than hoped

ANDOVER — The Cormier Youth Center, scheduled for a ground-breaking next week, has hit another speed bump, which could potentially turn into a roadblock.

The long-awaited building, first proposed some 20 years ago as a privately funded, $1.5 million facility in West Andover, has ballooned into a $5.6 million public/private project near the downtown Doherty Middle School.

Five bids came in last week, ranging from $4.3 million to $5.4 million. But the low-bidder, G&R Construction of Quincy, apparently made a clerical error in its bid and is now trying to revoke it. And the second-lowest bid, at $4.6 million, may put the project over-budget.

Town officials, however, remain confident that even if they are forced to go with the higher of the two bids, the project will be started next week.

“We’ll keep working the numbers,” said Andrea Zaimes, vice chairwoman of the Andover Youth Foundation, the organization paying for about half of the $5.6 million project. “We’re getting a shovel in the ground either way. The details of the funding are not final yet.”

In fact, even the low-bid came in slightly higher than hoped, prompting Youth Foundation officials to tap into a $150,000 grant it received from the Rogers Foundation. Zaimes said the youth group had hoped to use that money to pay for operating expenses once the building is complete.

“We were hoping to keep that money in the bank so we could pay to manage the building or for add-alternates,” she said, referring to additional items outside the base bid, such as kitchen and multi-purpose room build-outs.

The Rogers Foundation money is a three-year grant worth $50,000 a year. The construction budget includes the first $50,000 payment.

Zaimes said if the cost goes up again because a higher bid is used, “we will be working with other donors” to get more money.

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