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Jeudevine Memorial Library Construction Set for Fall Finish

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HARDWICK — It’s been a year since Hardwick’s Jeudevine Memorial Library hired a company to oversee construction of a long-planned expansion to the 1896 red sandstone building.

Construction management business ReArch has been handling the project since then, and the $3.3 million effort is set to culminate in the fall even as library enthusiasts await the verdict on a final grant.

courtesy photo
The expansion of the Jeudevine Memorial Library is portrayed in this architect’s rendering.

The project aims to provide more space dedicated to books and quiet reading as well as designated age-appropriate spaces for children and teens. The finished space will also serve as a venue for workshops and events, and advocates of the library say they’re seeking to boost internet access with the addition too.

ReArch, based in South Burlington, has had seven employees working on the project, which officials began planning in 2018.

The path to hiring ReArch featured a few snags.

The library struggled to come up with the funds for the expansion. The original price estimate in the fall of 2021 was $1.6 million, but the figure went up to $2.4 million due to lingering market effects from the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide construction boom. Library officials spent several months raising another $1 million for the project, but the price once again rose in the spring of 2022, leaving the library short another $900,000, said Jodi Lew-Smith, the former chair of the library board who now chairs the Friends of Jeudevine Library group.

If the library wanted to hire a general contractor, it would have needed to come up with the money in 60 days because “general contractor arrangements work by hard bidding, where the contractor gets pricing from subcontractors and then puts in a bid,” said Lew-Smith. The contract must be signed within 60 days or it is considered void, Lew-Smith said. “If the bid is for more than the budget, the entity has only those 60 days to come up with the extra funds,” Lew-Smith said.

So library leaders decided to hire a construction management company instead, which Lew-Smith said would offer more flexibility on timing and risk reduction. Working with a company like ReArch would allow the library to contract for the construction and come up with the funds to finish the building later, said Lew-Smith.

Lew-Smith, who chaired the library board throughout the project planning, said ReArch’s proposal was “more elaborate than it needed to be with lots of pictures and details” compared to proposals from two other companies.

Community members wanted the expansion to not overshadow the beauty of the original stone structure, which is adorned with nine stained-glass windows, said Lew-Smith. Residents wanted more accessibility options, too, so the design includes ground-level entrances and designated accessible parking spaces within 20 feet of the doorway, said Lew-Smith.

“They wanted it to be beautiful but not overly fancy but also functional,” said Lew-Smith.

ReArch’s leadership says it understands. “We know how important these projects are to the community, and so we work closely with clients to meet their needs,” said Benjamin Roll, vice president of construction for the company.

The ReArch team meets weekly on Zoom and once a month in person with library board members.

ReArch has been named one of the best places to work in Vermont for six years in a row by Vermont Business Magazine.

“Safety and well-being are our top priority,” said Roll. “Mental health is a huge concern in construction.”

In 2019, ReArch created a new role in the company: a full-time health, safety and risk director to help shape protocols and equip employees with mental health resources. Pete Duda filled the position earlier this month.

Roll began working at ReArch in 2018 following a career at a large construction management company with 4,500 employees and branches across the U.S., Canada, Australia and the Caribbean. Roll described his previous job as being “a bit impersonal,” expressing appreciation that he now works in an office where he sees the company’s CEO and other management on a daily basis.

“Working at ReArch has been the highlight of my career,” said Roll. “The company embodies what we all know and love about Vermont.”

Natalie Bankmann and Jacob Miller-Arsenault write for the Community News Service, a University of Vermont journalism program, on assignment for The Hardwick Gazette.

Natalie Bankmann and Jacob Miller-Arsenault

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