September 27, 2022

Middlefield Firm Picked for Essex Town Hall Campus Project

ESSEX— The town is expected to hire Xenelis Construction Inc. of Middlefield as the lead contractor for the Town Hall Campus Project after components of the project were modified when the four bids received for the work exceeded the state grant funding for the project.

First Selectman Norman Needleman said Friday the Middlefield firm has agreed to various changes that were required to hold the cost of the project close to the $471,500 state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant funding that was awarded for the project late last year. Needleman said the board of selectmen is expected to award a modified contract to Xenelis Construction at it’s next regular meeting on September 18, with work to begin later that week.

The project includes repaving and expanding the town hall parking lot, new tennis courts, and a new handicapped accessible playscape in the Grove Street Park that abuts the town hall property. There would also be new crosswalks, sidewalks, and other improvements intended to enhance the connections between the town hall property and the Essex Library property on the other side of Grove Street.

Xenelis Construction had submitted the second lowest of four bids that were opened on Aug. 8, but the total price of $638,113 exceeded the available grant funding. Needleman said he worked with town Public Works Director David Caroline to remove items from the bid package where the town could obtain lower prices, such as paving and site preparation work.

The town will use to state Department of Transportation subcontractors, Garrity Construction of Bridgewater and American Paving Company of Berlin, for the site preparation and paving work. “It was a very complicated process and we had to review all four bids line by line,” Needleman said.

Needleman said Xenelis Construction will receive $277,261 for most components of the project, including construction of the new tennis courts. The components for a new handicapped accessible playscape will cost $130,000. Lenard Engineering of Meriden, which prepared the design plans for the project, will receive $21,000, with a $27,000 contingency and pavements to the site preparation and paving subcontractors accounting for the remainder of the total cost.

Needleman said the town will direct between $130,000 and $150,000 to the project in addition to the grant funding. He said the town was always planning to pay for some components of the project, with all of this funding available in the current town budget without the need for any special appropriation. With construction expected to begin around Sept. 19, the project is expected to be completed by mid-December.