Hadley town officials OK redo for new library’s granite curbs 

  • The new Hadley Free Public Library.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2020 11:46:56 AM

HADLEY — Officials are giving the go-ahead for the general contractor building the new town library to reconstruct the entrance and exit to its parking lot after granite curbs installed made the roads too narrow for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles.

But the decision comes with uncertainty as to whether Hadley will be reimbursed for the necessary fixes that have an estimated price tag of $43,000.

The Select Board at its Sept. 16 meeting authorized Orlando Annulli & Sons Inc. of Manchester, Connecticut to reposition the curbs previously put in for the roads around the perimeter of the Middle Street site, and also to remove traffic islands from the parking lot between the library and the new senior center.

Board members supported the concerns brought by Fire Chief Michael Spanknebel, who measured the curbs on the north side of the building at 18 feet apart, and the curbs on the south side at 16 feet apart. The narrow width meant that department vehicles would have to go up and over those curbs when turning into the property from Middle Street, he said.

“It's just not big enough to get our trucks in,” Spanknebel said.

Spanknebel said the narrow lanes, which are required to be at least 20 feet wide if no waiver has been provided, and the traffic islands, would not only be a problem for fire trucks but would pose challenges for town snowplows.

The Select Board, though, is adamant that it doesn’t want the town to foot the bill for making the entrance access 21 feet wide and the exit access 20 feet wide.

“I think that’s where the contention is coming in, the cost to do the work,” said board member Christian Stanley.

Deputy Town Administrator David Nixon said either he or Town Administrator Carolyn Brennan would be talking this week to legal counsel KP Law to determine options, but that the Select Board should plan to have the contractor finish the job and then apportion blame later.

The library, an $8 million project being supported by a state grant, has more than $200,000 remaining in a contingency fund. Board member Joyce Chunglo said the town should dip into that money in this case, with reimbursement expected.

Select Board Chairman David J. Fill II said no town money should be spent on correcting the issue. “The library shouldn't lose a penny over this work,” Fill said.

Board members questioned whether owner’s project manager D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc. of Northampton should have known about the issues before the curbs were put in place.

Fill said he is concerned that a portion of the project was not built to fire code specifications despite the town paying for the owner’s project manager.

In fact, Spanknebel said he is not aware if an analysis on the width of the access roads was ever completed.

Planning Board Clerk William Dwyer said this same information was presented when his board met with the civil engineer for the project.

“It seems the plans were flawed from the outset, and no one caught it,” Dwyer said.

Jo-Ann Konieczny, chairwoman of the library trustees, said she hopes that the project won’t be held up over these issues, as the town can’t get $781,000 in reimbursements from the state until a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Already, the issue with the curbs has caused a delay in the paving of the roads and the parking lot. Building Commissioner Thomas Quinlan Jr. stopped that work once he was apprised of the situation.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

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