Merrimack councilors ready to sign off on look for courthouse

MERRIMACK – Local leaders are poised to sign off this week on the final details of a new district courthouse.

Town councilors are scheduled to meet Thursday to examine final renderings of the proposed 24,000-square-foot building, slated for construction on the current Town Hall complex property. Part of the town agreement in deeding land to the state swiveled on the council’s approval of the final architectural design.

While town leaders forge ahead on their end, a question mark remains at the state level as officials there investigate the low-bidding construction company being eyed to build the courthouse.

TLT Construction Corp. of Wakefield, Mass., submitted a $4.3 million building proposal, the lowest of nine bids for the estimated $5.4 million project.

TLT, however, has been barred from bidding on public works projects in Massachusetts for 18 months. That’s because the Massachusetts Department of Capital Asset Management claimed the company falsified or filed incomplete information on applications dealing with three public schools in the Bay State.

Lawyers for TLT have appealed the ruling in court.

Meanwhile, questions about the firm prompted New Hampshire officials to put off a vote planned last week on the project.

Michael Connor, director of the state Division of Plant and Property, said at least a two-week delay would allow his office to investigate the recommendation that TLT get the job.

The state’s investigation should not affect action town councilors may take this week, said Town Manager Keith Hickey.

With input from the council, “the state’s going to determine what the court will look like,” Hickey said, adding that the construction company ultimately selected will have to meet state specifications.

In addition to the look of the building, councilors will consider granting the state a permanent utility easement for sewer, electric and drainage, plus temporary access for construction, estimated to take 12 to 18 months.

Hickey said he’s been told the state wants to start building this spring, though an exact timeframe would depend on the contractor and the weather.

Some Merrimack officials had pushed for a new court because the town-owned space has become cramped, outdated and unsafe.

State representatives and town officials lobbied to shoot Merrimack up the list for a new district court, which also serves Bedford and Litchfield.

Last year, the state Legislature approved $7 million for the new court in exchange for the acreage on which to build it.

Some town officials disagreed with that idea and lobbied for residents to have a say in the land exchange.

Finally, last spring, councilors agreed to convey the land in exchange for the court.

Karen Lovett can be reached at 594-6402 or klovett@nashuatelegraph.com.

Hickey said he’s been told the state wants to start building this spring, though an exact timeframe would depend on the contractor and the weather.

Some Merrimack officials had pushed for a new court because the town-owned space has become cramped, outdated and unsafe.

State representatives and town officials lobbied to shoot Merrimack up the list for a new district court, which also serves Bedford and Litchfield.

Last year, the state Legislature approved $7 million for the new court in exchange for the acreage on which to build it.

Some town officials disagreed with that idea and lobbied for residents to have a say in the land exchange.

Finally, last spring, councilors agreed to convey the land in exchange for the court.