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Brunswick renovation project fails to boost local subcontractors

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Brunswick renovation project fails to boost local subcontractors

BRUNSWICK — A renovation project billed as a local stimulus project will be more regional than anticipated.

The Town Council learned Monday that a $780,000 project to retrofit an 1854 building on Union Street to accommodate local retirement services provider People Plus will involve several subcontractors from the surrounding area, but only one from Brunswick.

The general contractor, Ouellett Associates, is a Brunswick-based firm. Ouellett has now hired several subcontractors, only one of which is from Brunswick, while the remainder of the list includes firms from Lewiston, Portland and Freeport.

The idea of employing Brunswick-based contractors was proposed to soften the blow of a project that exceeded original cost estimates. Last month, the council voted unanimously to borrow $750,000 to pay for the People Plus move, made necessary by the provider's  displacement by Maine Street Station.

The so-called local stimulus was designed to keep Brunswick firms busy during a slow business period.

However, Town Manager Gary Brown said Monday that bids from several local firms were higher than those from other towns. Also, he said, some services, like elevator installation, aren't available locally.

Council Vice Chairwoman Debbie Atwood said she was disappointed that more Brunswick firms weren't hired. However, Brown said achieving a lower bottom line was his directive from the council when it authorized the bond on Dec. 7.

Brown also reported that the actual bond will be about $665,000 – about $90,000 less than the council approved.

The council on Monday also voted 8-0 to approve a liquor license for Byrnes Irish Pub at 16 Station Ave. The pub is owned by Joe Byrnes, who owns an identically named establishment on Centre Street in Bath. He also owns Admiral Steakhouse on Washington Street in Bath.

Byrnes told the council that alcohol sales account for a little more than half of his Bath business. He said he plans to remain open in Brunswick until about 11:30 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight on weekends.

He described the establishment as an "adult pub" rather than a place that would draw college students and young adults.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to set a March 1 public hearing on proposed increases in building and permitting fees.

At a later date, the council will also consider a proposal that would outline guidelines for roads that could eventually be taken over by the town. The new standards are driven by several roads that became town ways, but in some cases have inferior engineering and construction.

That proposal will be reviewed by the town attorney before returning to the council.

The council will hold a joint workshop with the School Board on Feb. 3 to measure residents' concerns and priorities for the upcoming budget. The council decided Monday to televise the meeting, but to make it town hall-style to encourage resident participation.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net

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