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NH seeks to spend more than $1 million to repair State House dome

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 07. 2013 7:15PM

The state wants to spend more than $1.1 million for a facelift for the peeling State House dome, including nearly $170,000 for the cost of the actual gold.

The project comes less than 20 years after a similar dome makeover resulted in the state calling in a second company to complete the job and tapping the first company's performance bond to pay for it.

"We're disappointed (it didn't last longer)," said Michael Connor, director of the state Division of Plant and Property Management-Bureau of Purchase and Property. "Obviously, it didn't come out like we wanted."

The last renovation dragged on with delays more than a year after it was due to be completed in 1993.

"That's why we need to ensure this moves on quickly and is done properly," Connor said.

If the finances are approved, work would begin in August with Halloween 2014 the targeted completion date, Connor said.

"We are requiring the gilding contractor to warranty the work for 10 years ... ," he said.

D. L. King & Associates in Nashua came in as the low bidder, but no contract has been awarded until the funding is worked out.

"The architect and the state really did their homework," said CEO Art King, whose company does 80 percent of its overall business with the state.

The contract calls for using one of two expert gilders, one from New York City, the other from Maryland, unless the state approved another gilding firm.

According to state records, bid results showed repairing the dome's rotting wood as well as painting and gilding work will cost about $1.04 million. Another $130,555 in previously approved state money has been spent on architect and engineering fees and other costs.

The House last week approved a capital budget that included the remaining $472,445 needed for the dome project. The Senate and governor also need to give their blessing. The legislature two years ago approved about $700,000 for the project.

An architectural engineering firm the state hired analyzed what happened in the earlier makeover.

"We wanted to research why some of the gold came off prematurely," Connor said.

The dome's discoloration is exposed copper, he said. The previous contractor didn't properly bond the gold with layers of primer applied to the dome, Connor said.

Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, who chairs the Senate Capital Budget Committee, said the state needs to maintain its buildings.

"It's one of the most prominent spectacles on the horizon as you're driving up the highway as you're coming into the city," Boutin said. "We ought to take care of it and maintain it."

The project includes restoring outside wood and exterior painting as well as replacing the actual gold leaf.

The money includes a $3,000 allowance for a bird mitigation system to keep the birds away.

The gold was estimated to cost $169,890, but there is an allowance of $25,000 to account for the fluctuation of gold.

The mid-1990s makeover involved using five pounds of gold. How much gold would be required in the proposed project wasn't available.

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