Conte School General Contractor Bids Opened

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The School Building Committee voted to enter into a contract for the renovation of Conte School into a K-7 school.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Building Committee has unanimously approved entering into a contract with PDS Engineering & Construction Inc. of Bloomfield, Conn., for the Conte School renovation project.

"We have a project," Mayor Richard Alcombright said to a round of applause at Monday's School Building Committee meeting.

The general contractor bids were opened at 2 p.m. on Monday.

Three bids were received for the estimated $21.8 million construction phase of the school renovation project.

The low total bidder was PDS Engineering with $21,983,496. The committee unanimously agreed to accept the bid with two alternate scenarios: No. 1, eliminating a turf playground surface for $49,000, and No. 2, eliminating air-conditioning in the hallways at $57,000.

That brought the total down to $21,877,496, or about $24,000 above the estimate.

"We've got it," said Kenneth J. Guyette of Strategic Building Solutions, the owner's project manager. "It depends on which pocket we pull it of."

MacMillin Co. LLC of Keene, N.H., was second with a total cost of $22,849,916 and Fontaine Bros. Inc. of Springfield was third with a total cost of $23,327,000.

The bidding also requested another alternative scenario: elimination of the playground at $100,000. In all three alternate cases, PDS was still the lowest bidder.

Guyette and Margo Jones of Jones Whitsett Architects said there was still be possibility of adding the alternates back in should costs come in lower.

The bid also included that of subcontractor Champlain Masonry, which was reinstated after a protest last week. That saved the city about $300,000.

School officials had been concerned about costs when subcontracting bids came in nearly $1 million over, or about 8 percent. However, PDS' bid is barely 1 percent over and the two other bids are about 5-6 percent higher.

"I am so happy," Alcombright said. "This is extremely good news."

"This does typically happen with the general contractor coming in closer," Guyette said. "Honestly, that's where we thought things were trending, so we are pleasantly surprised."

He said the next step would be to get a contract out to PDS; once the city signed off, the real work could begin.

A finance subcommittee was created to be ready to review invoices and expenses. An FF&E [Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment] committee was ready to begin the detail work.

Guyette said SBS had worked with PDS Engineering in the past.

"As with any firm, it depends on the team you get," he said. "We've had good experiences with them and bad experiences.

"I'm going to have a good time either way, so it's up to them if they want to have a good time."

Among PDS' projects is the $8 million renovation of the 80-year-old Westfield Vocational Technical High School completed last June and as construction manager at risk for the $55 million Global Communications Academy, a K-12 school in Hartford, Conn.

Alcombright asked if the fall 2015 opening was still possible; Guyette said it would be in the contract.

The meeting closed after about 15 minutes.

"This has been our shortest meeting and our happiest meeting," said member and district business manager Nancy Ziter.

This article is an update of an earlier version posted at 2:30 p.m.

Tags: bidding,   Conte School,   school building,   

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