Island contractors pass on Chilmark housing project


Despite a concerted effort to help local builders get the necessary state certification, Chilmark officials know of no Island contractors that have qualified to bid on the Middle Line Road affordable housing development.

According to executive secretary Tim Carroll, three local electricians are expected to be certified shortly, but he knows of no heating and air conditioning, plumbing, painting, or roofing sub-contractors who are qualified to bid.

The Middle Line Road project, located on 21 acres off Tabor House Road, includes six rental units built and owned by the town, and six single family houses, to be owned by lottery winners who will be responsible for planning and building their own homes.

Anyone who works on a municipal project must be certified by the state Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). The process involves documenting the contractor’s financial standing, experience, and bonding.

Mr. Carroll said the town had divided the $1.6 million project into three parts, hoping that three small projects would allow local contractors to qualify. But the town doesn’t know of any contractors ready to bid.

“The Middle Line Road construction advisory committee discussed the situation,” Mr. Carroll said, “and decided that unless there were local bidders appearing miraculously, we were going to have to go back and bid it the old way, as one project for $1.6 million.”

The town hopes to begin construction on the project April 1, and still holds hope that some local contractors will be involved.

“If they are about to get certified we could delay the project,” Mr. Carroll said. “But if we don’t know anybody who is about to be certified, we’re going to have to go forward, and all the jobs will go off-Island to an off-Island contractor. We’re making one last plea for any general contractor that might be in the process of getting DCAM certified, or think they can get certified in the next month, to let us know.”

Last summer, the town sponsored a workshop with state officials and insurance representatives designed to help local contractors and subcontractors understand the process of getting certified. Mr. Carroll said 75 people came to the session, but very few followed through. “People said they were applying for certification, but it comes down to the New Year and we find that there’s only one Island general contractor that’s certified.”