National labor shortage and rise in construction costs impacting Falmouth library project

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    FALMOUTH (WGME) -- A nationwide skilled labor shortage and rise in construction costs are putting plans to renovate and expand the Falmouth Memorial Library in a holding pattern.

    According to Marsha Clark, the president of the library's board of trustees, a new cost estimate in June put the project $2.2 million over the original budget.

    "We very quickly asked why, as everyone is asking why," says Clark.

    Ledgewood Construction is the construction manager on the project. President Peter Pelletier says there are two major factors behind the dramatic cost increase, the first is the skilled labor shortage.

    "Over the past three years we've come out of the recession, now we're actually into a boom," says Pelletier, "There is so much work out there right now that subcontractors and contractors just don't have enough work force to complete the work and it's causing an increase in costs."

    Pelletier says the second major factor is the rice in construction materials due to tariffs, forest fires and tree-eating beetles.

    "Lumber companies are telling us from a year ago they're selling stuff right now that's 40% higher," says Pelletier.

    Since finding this out, lead architect Scott Simons says they went back to the drawing board.

    "One thing that we've tried to do as the cost increases became evident to us was to try and find ways to build the building less expensively without sacrificing the programming," says Simons.

    They managed to bring the cost increase down $1.2 million.

    "Without compromising programs, we are still a million dollars short," says Clark.

    Now the board is asking the town council to approve a bond on the November ballot for up to $1 million to complete the project.

    "They are asking questions," says Clark, "Which is what they should be doing and we are listening to those questions, we are trying to answer those questions."

    The town council will have several more meetings including a presentation and public input. Clark says the clock is ticking, as the current library is deteriorating, with sprinkler system and furnace problems.

    "This came as a shock to all of us," Clark says, "We are trying to work through this and to do what is best for the community."

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