On Monday, Jan. 27, the town of Groton terminated its relationship with TLT Construction Corporation of Wakefield, Massachusetts, as the general contractor on the Groton center fire station construction project based on the recommendation of town counsel.
This decision was not made lightly. TLT Construction Corporation had submitted the lowest, most qualified bid for the project. The laws of the commonwealth require the town to award the bid to the lowest, most qualified bidder unless they may be disqualified for cause. Considerable effort was invested in evaluating TLT's history, including the elements of successful projects, their history of challenging disqualification decisions and associated legal action. An analysis was done on the cost and benefit of issuing a disqualification, including such considerations as construction delay, legal cost and the likelihood that the town would need to reissue the bid and the risk of higher bids even if a disqualification decision was successfully defended.
On balance, the town believed that the financial risks to the project did not justify a disqualification decision and that it had enough safeguards in place to manage TLT while assuring that the project was constructed on time and on budget. The town manager, Municipal Building Committee, architect and owner's project manager provided direct oversight of TLT on this project. No taxpayer money was paid to TLT without approval of the architect, owner's project manager and town manager. The town would not release any payments to TLT without confirmation that subcontractors and vendors were paid up to date. Due to this oversight, the town was able to act quickly to resolve any issues that arose due to TLT's actions.
However, by letter dated Dec. 12, 2013, Western Surety, the bonding company holding the performance bond and payment bond on the project, notified the town that it had received several payment bond claims in connection with the project and had also received several performance bond and payment bond claims on other projects for which TLT served as general contractor. The letter directed that the town make no further disbursement of contract funds without Western Surety's consent.
On Dec. 20, 2013, the town received notification from TLT that they could no longer pay TLT employees assigned to the project.
In an effort to keep the project moving forward, the town of Groton assumed the payroll of all TLT employees assigned to the project. This included the project manager, project superintendent and three carpenters. By assuming this payroll, the town was able to keep the project moving forward without delay. This was all done with the approval of Western Surety.
Since the project is nearly two-thirds completed, the action of the town to terminate the project and take over direct management is in the best interest of the town and taxpayers. Any outstanding obligation of TLT prior to Dec. 23, 2013 (the date the town took over management of the project), will be paid by Western Surety.
Through the efforts of town employees and the Municipal Building Committee, this project has been well managed. The town fully expects to complete this project on time and on budget.
GROTON BOARD OF SELECTMEN