The roof of the timber pavilion has taken shape, while the town is still pursuing final approvals needed to open the public bathrooms. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

Gerow Park improvements back underway after dispute, delays 

By Celeste Katz Marston
December 19, 2023

A derailed upgrade project at Gerow Park is visibly back on track, and if it stays that way, the residents could be enjoying the plaza as intended this spring. 

That would be nearly six years after the town bought the land.  

Concord purchased the seven-acre spread from the Gerow family in 2018. Several years later, the town signed two separate deals with Cole Contracting and Marino Construction to create a timber pavilion and a bathroom building on the Commonwealth Avenue site nestled between Warner’s Pond and the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. 

Marino finished its work. Cole didn’t.  

Instead, Cole came back to the town to ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars more to complete the job, citing cost overruns, according to Town Manager Kerry Lafleur. The town refused to pay. When Cole came back again, citing additional costs related to changes in the scope of the work, in October 2022 the town threatened to terminate the contract.  

The two sides reconciled their differences this year, and work resumed.  

Before the town and contractor came to loggerheads, some work got done at the West Concord site, including site preparation, tree removal, stone walls, installation of walking paths, a base asphalt coat on the parking lot and entrance drive, framing of the timber pavilion and Marino’s construction of the restroom building. 

Now, according to Concord Public Works, the ceiling, gable siding, trim and roof decking of the pavilion are complete, with metal roof panel installation underway as of late last week and likely to be done by the end of the year.  

Workers have been back on the job, as seen here earlier this month, after upgrades to the future Gerow Park stalled amid a dispute with Cole Contracting. Photo by Celeste Katz Marston

While the bathrooms were completed in 2022, “work continued this year to certify the septic system and obtain a certificate of compliance from the Board of Health,” Public Works said through the town’s communications director, Donna McIntosh. The restroom building is winterized, but not heated.  

Final paving of the driveway and parking area is complete, with striping expected to come in the spring.  

Some of the trees, shrubs and perennials planted at the park before the project stalled subsequently died due to drought. Those will be replaced in the spring, when settled pavers will also be fixed and furnishings for the new plaza installed. 

“The work looks really terrific,” Lafleur told the Select Board at its Monday meeting, forecasting that upgrades would go into a “winter shutdown” within the next few weeks, with final touches completed in the spring.  

Select Board Clerk Mary Hartman, who had requested regular updates from Lafleur on the Gerow project this year, said the final result will be “worth the wait” for Concordians “after a slow start.” 

The pavilion has a “great rustic structure [that] fits perfectly into the natural landscape,” Hartman said, giving kudos to Lafleur, Public Works Director Alan Cathcart and Town Engineer Steve Dookran for finally getting the upgrade rolling again.  

The original cost for Cole’s work was just under $1.21 million, plus slightly less than $381,000 for Marino’s construction of the restrooms, bringing the grand total to approximately $1.59 million.  

As of the latest figures supplied to The Concord Bridge by the town, the cost for Cole’s side of the work is now more than $1.27 million, and for Marino’s, around $407,000. That hikes the bottom line to approximately $1.68 million.  

Including the land purchase, the town’s outlay on the Gerow project tops $4 million.