New Fairfield Board of Finance Discusses Potential Appropriations of 2019-20 Fiscal Budget Surplus
September 25, 2020
NF BOE and Administrators Respond to Concerns Over ELC Changes
October 6, 2020

At the latest Permanent Building Committee (PBC) meeting on Sept. 22, it was announced that, after repeated difficulties with the previous team at O&G Industries, a new executive has joined the team working on the new buildings projects–Mr. Jason Travelstead who has been with the O&G Industries for 23 years. They have a new “consistency of approach” according to Travelstead. At a recent NF Board of Education meeting, Director of Finance and Operations Dr. Richard Sanzo indicated that the switch in staffing was already helping smooth processes.

The site plans for the Consolidated Early Learning Academy (CELA) and the new NFHS were a focus of the meeting. At CELA, there is now agreement on the pickup/drop off plans, which will involve a bus lane close to the school and a parent lane in a parallel location which will include safe pedestrian crossover space. The parking has also been reconfigured in the plans to maximize space. Right now the parking spot count is running lower than the design teams would like, so they are considering options to try to create more spaces, including offering temporary parking spaces in the pickup/drop off lanes in off-peak times.

At the high school there are a number of Value Engineering changes that were incorporated on the site plan, including significant alterations to the plaza between the new high school and the middle school, such as far less concrete and hardscaping to help save money on the project. To that aim, they’ve also shrunk a circle that will be in front of the new high school’s main entrance and the sidewalks that will connect to the middle school. There will be a reinforced grass and gravel area with a curb surrounding it for overflow parking rather than paving more additional spots. They have identified places on the plans for a possible greenhouse and playscape for the child development program, but it is uncertain whether there will be funds for these items. PBC member Mr. Don Kellogg asked specific questions about drainage issues that JCJ Architecture’s representatives were largely able to answer.

Ms. Christine O’Hare, of JCJ Architecture, explained that the design teams have met with the School Safety and Security Committee to discuss  a  variety of matters, especially the types of hardening in the glass at the new high school. They are also thinking about cameras and other hardware needs. In addition, they have met with the town’s fire marshal, planning and zoning, and health department, and will schedule follow ups with these groups as well.

Collier’s International representative Mr. Mark Schweitzer explained that the 50% complete design sets for both schools are with the PBC for review. The plan is to have CELA’s Value Engineering list completed in early October and the high school later in the month. In that vein, they are intending to start the Construction Documents phase for CELA in early November and the high school approximately one month later.

The representatives at Collier’s have been collecting bids for environmental consultants, who will oversee the handling of hazardous materials on the building and demolition sites. They’ve received 10 bids and the PBC voted unanimously to invite three groups to interview including Hyginix, who also happens to be the district’s current environmental consultant and who submitted a bid of $119K; Enviromed who submitted a bid of $135K; and Eagle, whose bid fell at $142K. Collier’s plans to work with JCJ Architecture and O&G Industries to formulate questions that will vet the best candidate. While expense is a primary focus, there is also a need to hire a firm that all parties can trust. Travelstead said that, as O&G Industries personnel are not allowed in the containments when they are going on, “you want a qualified individual in there with the contractor making sure that things get done properly.”

Kellogg asked why Hygenix was so much lower in bid, to which Mr. Chuck Warrington of Collier’s explained that, given their in-depth familiarity with the buildings as the existing on-call service, that their local knowledge might have come into play a bit with them “being aggressive” in their bid. Warrington went on to stress that the asbestos abatement is more straightforward, but the PCB testing needs a strategy, can be a huge ordeal, and “could expose our budget and put us in a position that we may not be as financially advantageous to be.”

There was continued discussion regarding the Construction Manager contract which was raised by the town’s lawyer in the past month. At issue is the delivery method for contingency funds. To help the PBC, Travelstead created a comparison between the two contracts, noting that “O&G is happy to work under either arrangement” and their fee is not going to change. Right now, the contract requires the school to carry the contingency funds, whereas with the new contract, O&G Industries would carry the contingency. Warrington pointed out that the new contract would possibly mire progress as they would be required to go back to the PBC to approve all changes to scope, however minor.

The next regular Permanent Building Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 7pm.

By Sarah Opdahl