Renovations for Westbrook City Hall and Community Center

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WESTBROOK — City hall will soon be operating a little bit differently — at least temporarily — as five offices on the first floor get renovated to give the building more office space.

At first reading Monday, the city council approved awarding an $85,825 contract to H.E. Callahan Construction Company to do the work. The Auburn-based firm was the lower of two bids the city received. Funding for the project was approved as part of the current capital improvement plan last spring.

According to a memo from Eric Dudley, the city’s director of engineering and public services, the work will “include demoing existing walls, construction of new walls and doors and the reconfiguration of an exterior wall to install two windows where one exists today.” The work, he noted, will also include changes to the suspended ceiling and minor work on the heating/cooling system. Once the contract gets finalized, work will begin. Dudley said the project is expected to be completed by Friday, June 29.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the five offices that will be renovated, which include his, as well as the offices for Mayor Mike Sanphy and Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson, are “bigger than they need to be.”

The proposed work comes on the heels of another construction project at city hall that brought all offices to the first floor, added an additional restroom and made it more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city moved into the building, a former insurance office, in 1995. From 1967 to 1995 city offices were at 790 Main Street, a building that has since been converted into Peoples United Bank.

“Once we relocated people after that, it became obvious we needed more office space. We had plenty of building. We just needed to reconfigure the space,” Bryant said.

The project, Dudley said, “will allow for all current employees to have a workspace and will provide a flex office that can be used as meeting space or for additional office space in the future, if needed.”

Bryant said unlike the previous project, there will not be a need for employees to work out of a mobile trailer during constructions.

“Everything will be handled inside the building and we are fine tuning how that will work right now,” Bryant said April 19. 

During the 10-week construction period, Bryant, Sanphy, Stephenson’s offices will be operating out of space on the second floor. The city clerk’s office will do business in the human resource department’s conference room.

The council also, in a first reading, approved a $797,000 contract for Patriot Mechanical in Gorham (the lowest bidder) to update Westbrook Community Center’s close to 45-year-old HVAC system and a $76,300 contract for A-Tech Electric in Portland to do the associated electrical work. $800,000 has been set aside for the project in the current capital improvement plan, and the remaining cost ($73,338) will be paid for using part of a $200,000 to $250,000 rebate the city is expecting from Efficiency Maine for installing a variable refrigerant flow heating/cooling system.

Dudley said the community center project would replace the two aging boilers with a natural gas boiler, install a new heating and air conditioning system, upgrade the ventilation system and introduce a dehumidification system at John P. Davan Pool. Dudley told councilors Monday that the boilers are original to the building, which was constructed in 1974. The new system, he said, will help to provide better air conditioning to the building during the warmer months. The existing boilers will remain in place to be used as emergency backups.

The proposed system, Dudley said, is similar to the one put into the historic portion of the Walker Memorial Library in 2012.

“We have experienced great success with the library install and have seen major reductions in our utility bills as a result,” Dudley said. 

Bryant said the project, which is expected to take six months to complete, is part of the city’s on-going effort to improve the former school, which serves as a recreational and community space for residents. Final approval of the bid contract for the community center work and city hall work is expected at the April 30 council meeting. 

“That building was a junior high school for many years and we have gradually, as funds have been available, been rehabilitating and converting the building,” Bryant said. “Over the years, we have done significant work through donations, grant funding, but there has been some city funding as well.”

Previous work includes replacing the roof 10 years ago and more recent work to update bathrooms, locker rooms and exterior doors and windows.

The HVAC work is not the only improvements being made at the community center. Councilors also approved a project to replace the six touchpads and bleachers at the pool. The project is being funded through money from the Cornelia Warren Association, Westbrook Seals Swimming Club, the Westbrook and Gorham school departments and a small donation from the city. The touchpads have been malfunctioning and not syncing up with the scoreboard to properly time performances at swim meets.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

The city council is in the midst of approving a contract for work at the Westbrook Community Center that would replace the building’s heating and cooling system. Installation of a dehumidification system, new touchpads and bleachers at the John P. Davan Pool is also in the plans. (Staff photo by Michael Kelley)

Since taking over the former Wescott Junior High School, the town has been working to transition it from a school building to a community center and has taken on project along the way to improve the building. The latest round of projects calls for a new heating and cooling system and bleachers at the pool, among other items. (Staff photo by Michael Kelley)

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