On Tuesday, November 22, New Fairfield’s Permanent Building Committee met to discuss ongoing school construction. There was a lengthy discussion about the high school construction site’s heat and excitement expressed over the near finalization of the elementary playground.
When O&G’s Mr. Joe Vetro explained that the propane heaters for the high school’s temporary winter heat are being installed, PBC members were surprised to hear that the heaters would be indoors as they had been described as outdoor furnaces with indirect heat at a previous meeting. “Why were we told [they would be] indirect fired furnaces, if that was not the truth,” Mr. Mike Del Monaco asked, saying “It’s very disturbing to be misled.” He was then told that there was a change of plans that were approved by O&G. Concerns were plentiful, including the carbon monoxide and water vapor being introduced in the sealed building. Another concern is the plan to leave the heaters on, rather than turn them off, in the evenings and on the weekends. Del Monaco asked for a sign off from the Town’s fire marshal.
A further update on the high school’s construction site included the news that windows are being installed but some areas were held up as the wrong size glass was delivered. The final exterior veneer metal panels are also being installed.
The playground at the elementary campus is almost complete. Recent warm temperatures allowed the installers to lay the sub base and the rubber surface was scheduled to be installed over Thanksgiving weekend. A third-party inspector will be onsite in the coming weeks, but it was noted that the installers and inspector have already been in discussion, “so the playground installer knows what the inspector is looking for,” Colliers International’s Mr. Mark Schweitzer said.
An invoice was approved for an electronic conduit that needed repair after the playground installer hit it when installing the swingset. Schweitzer explained that “their terms and conditions excluded any underground markings,” and the conduit wasn’t on the As Builts. He explained that after hitting the conduit, the installers “went a lot slower” and “they were a lot more cautious.” In doing so, they uncovered another conduit and were able to dig around it. It was confirmed that this did not interfere with the equipment location.
At the elementary campus, the bus loop is “taking a little bit longer than I think they anticipated, but it seems to be moving along quite well,” Schweitzer said. The curbing is in progress, and they will soon backfill it. The last of the asphalt will be finished in the last week in November and then the stripes will be painted. PBC members asked that O&G ensures that sealant is being added to the joint between the new asphalt and the existing. They also expressed concern about ongoing maintenance that the current plan is to paint black over the existing stripes, rather than grinding the old lines off. Representatives from Colliers will revisit the issue to ensure that the correct plan is being followed. They are also following up on revised As Builts that were submitted to the Town but have not been given to the PBC.
Problems with overheating in sections of the elementary school are possibly resolved. Final systems tests were being completed over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Regarding potential change orders for cosmetic and marginally more functional enhancements in the high school gym, the PBC has agreed to take time to review previous Value Engineered (VE) items, rather than simply approve enhancements on the fly. The school is asking for a more prominent design for the gym floor, including a larger logo and more “Rebels” presence, plus much more sophisticated scoreboards with increased digital components that would allow the guest team names to display.
Some committee members expressed support for the enhancements but agreed with PBC Chair Mr. Don Kellogg that a review of the VE list should ensue to make sure that educational and programmatic items that were cut, and are waiting for potential inclusion in the project, would not be a better use for extra spending. It was agreed that there is time to decide about the scoreboards, but the flooring design decision needs to be made in December. Kellogg asked Colliers to supply the VE list for members to review to begin prioritizing for last-minute requests. “We did a fair amount of reductions…in order to achieve our budgets,” Kellogg said. He went on to say, “I do think that we are going to have a robust contingency…I just want to make sure there’s nothing that could enhance the learning environment that we would maybe not be able to do if we did this. There was a brief discussion about fundraising for the scoreboard enhancement, but it was explained by Pellman that this would need to be pursued outside of the project, as a future upgrade.
In moving forward with plans to shore up the Middle School after demolition, there are additional projects being completed. One is to add sprinklers to the existing storage room off the cafeteria. This change makes the storage room similar to other rooms that are like it.
By Sarah Opdahl