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National Guard training site in Pembroke empty 15 months after state fired TLT Construction

More than a year after a National Guard training facility was supposed to open in Pembroke, the 200-acre site sits empty and quiet, overrun with weeds and piles of dirt that were abandoned when the state escorted workers away last spring over a dispute about payment.

State officials are negotiating a settlement with TLT Construction, based in Wakefield, Mass., as they try to end the contract with TLT, alleging shoddy work and inaccurate paperwork. State officials would not comment on those conversations, and TLT representatives did not return messages left this week.

The site is supposed to be home to a training facility for National Guard troops, replacing an aging facility in Strafford. Original estimates put the price at $25 million, and it was supposed to open for use this past June.

The state has paid TLT more than $3 million, said Michael Connor, deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services.

“We terminated the contract with them, and it’s our intent to put the project back out to bid,” Connor said. “We have contractual issues that we’ve got to work out; payment is always an issue. It always comes down to money. . . . We are feverishly trying to resolve it so we don’t end up in court so it won’t drag out any longer. . . . We were hoping by early next year we could be doing some work there.”

Pembroke officials raised concerns last month about erosion and security of the site that sits off Route 106. After a final inspection July 1, the state turned maintenance of the site over to the New Hampshire National Guard, according to a letter from Connor to the town.

The National Guard is responsible for security on the site, as well as conducting ongoing inspections and ensuring storm water does not cause erosion.

TLT began work on the facility in November 2011, after bidding about $3 million less than the project’s projected cost. Members of the Executive Council had reservations about hiring the company, which had been recently accused of poor construction on a building at Nashua Community College, former councilor Dan St. Hilaire of Concord told the Monitor last year.

Federal funds for the project required construction to begin during 2011, and if the council had more time St. Hilaire believes it would have put the project out for a second round of bidding, he said.

The federal funding expires Sept. 30, 2015, but Connor said he believes the building will be substantially complete by then.

Problems at the site began in January 2012, when dried concrete failed required pressure tests. In February, the state halted work at the site and asked the company to pull up about 10 percent of the concrete it had poured. Then in late March, after the state conducted its own tests, more concrete was ripped up.

The state banned TLT workers and subcontractors from the site in May 2012 when one subcontractor alleged he was owed more than $162,000 for concrete delivered as far back as six months earlier. In invoices for the $3 million it had already received, TLT certified it had paid all subcontractors for the work previously completed.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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