Center School Site Plan Approved

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The Elementary School Building Committee voted on two major recommendations last night regarding the proposed Fruit Street School Project.
The December 6th meeting saw a decision on a final site plan and the selection of a construction management method.

The Committee voted to approve the site plan that includes a connecting school access road. The road would terminate at the site of the Fruit Street DPW garage and that would mean the garage will have to be relocated. Architect David Finney mentioned that construction activity could work around the garage for a period of time and maximize the useful life of the building, but it would have to be demolished before the school was completed.

The Committee also voted to use the Construction Management at Risk or CM at Risk method of construction management as opposed to the more traditional Hard Bid Build process. The CM at Risk process is, according to the committee members in the construction trade, more of a collaborative effort and business relationship between the construction contractor, owner and architect. In addition, the building owner assumes less exposure or risk in the project.

The CM at Risk method will add approximately 5% to the total cost of the project according to Finney. But, some committee members argued the cost increase for deploying the CM at Risk method would not approach 5%. Grant money provided by the Massachusetts School Building Authority is increased by 1% if the CM at Risk method is used on school construction projects.

Both recommendations will be presented to the School Committee at their next meeting. The final budget figures for the project will also be presented at next week’s School Committee meeting.

While the decision about the final site plan addressed the DPW garage question, it also prompted some comments on the DPW’s relocation plans. When the search for a new location is initiated it should take into consideration adding a school bus parking facility. Currently Hopkinton pays Ashland $25,000 per year to house its school busses. A new DPW garage,combined with a school bus parking area, would immediately save the $25,000 fee paid to Ashland.

In other committee meeting news, Town Manager Norman Khumalo mentioned that a number of positions on the committee expired in June of this year. The Board of Selectmen will have to reappoint the members at a board meeting.

Khumalo is also looking to add another member from the School Committee to the Elementary School Building Committee. School Committee member Troy Mick, in attendance at last night’s meeting, is a possible candidate for the position. Todd Cestari ,selectmen liaison, brought up the recent Center School tour taken by the selectmen, Khumalo, and the Capital Improvement Committee. Cestari addressed his concerns to Superintendent Jack Phelan who said he would have answers to the group’s questions shortly.

In an effort to raise the visibility of the deteriorating conditions at Center School, HCAM will be videotaping the areas presented to Khumalo, the Board of Selectmen and the building committee during their recent tour.