By Mary Thurwachter
Just when it looked like construction on Lantana’s library was about to resume, a canceled Town Council meeting on April 25 further slowed the progress.
On the agenda was a $734,227 contract with West Construction, Inc., to complete the library renovation. Work has been at a standstill since late December when it was discovered that the general contractor, Sierra Construction Management & Remodeling of Weston, was operating without a license.
But no vote was taken April 25, of course, since there was no meeting.
A notice on the door of the council chambers, written on the letterhead of Mayor Robert Hagerty, said the meeting was canceled “due to circumstances beyond our control.”
Vice Mayor Karen Lythgoe offered insight on the circumstances, saying in a telephone interview that the entire five-member council, town manager and town attorney had been exposed to COVID-19 during a visioning retreat with department heads on April 22.
“One of the people at the retreat came down with COVID,” Lythgoe said. “We’ve all been exposed, and two other people are showing symptoms of COVID, but negative so far. It was decided we should just call it off.”
Town Manager Brian Raducci said it hadn’t been determined if a special meeting would be called regarding the library contract.
After the town shut down Sierra’s work at the library, at 205 W. Ocean Ave., in December, it sought to turn the work over to a subcontractor, Multitech Corp. However, Multitech was unable to obtain the bonds required to restart the work.
The town then negotiated with West, which had been the second-lowest bidder when the contract was awarded in July. West bid $883,932 then, compared to Sierra’s $723,200.
According to the agenda report for the April 25 meeting, West has agreed to complete the work within 120 days from the date it receives a notice to proceed from the town. Failure to do so would cost the contractor $500 a day.
The total cost of the library is about $277,000 more than originally anticipated. Any funding shortfall will be paid for through the infrastructure surtax funds, other revenue sources or from the town’s reserve funds, according to the agenda report.
The library is temporarily housed in the Recreation Center at 418 S. Dixie Highway.
No one from the public attended the morning-long visioning retreat, which was held at the Finlandia House, just steps from Town Hall. The meeting wasn’t recorded, but minutes were taken, Town Clerk Kathleen Dominguez said.
Lythgoe said the retreat was “excellent,” but that the public notifications for events like that could be better. The meeting was noticed on the town’s website with an agenda, Dominguez said.
“I’m thinking email blasts or robo-texting,” Lythgoe said.
“We’ve got to drive traffic” to the website, she said. “We’ve got to get a better website. The website sucks. We’ve been talking about this for two years.”
The retreat allowed the council to hear from directors about their departments, what shortcomings they see and what they plan in the future — and for council members to submit their own priorities, including direction for the upcoming budget, Lythgoe said.
“We were all pretty much in alignment,” she said.