Examples of the exterior finish materials chosen for the new construction at Mount Greylock.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Building Committee on Thursday got its clearest picture yet of the cost for the addition/renovation project at the junior-senior high school.
And the news continues to be good.
Turner Construction, the project's construction manager at-risk, delivered the guaranteed maximum price for construction on the new three-story academic wing; cafeteria, media center, offices and central core; renovated gymnasium and auditorium; and demolition of the bulk of the old school.
And the price tag came in a hair under budget.
The $64.8 million project has been carrying a construction budget of $52,310,706.
On Thursday, the committee received a GMP of $52,266,600 - .08 percent under budget.
"For the scope of work that we have identified, they have guaranteed they will deliver that scope of the project per the contract for a specified price," Trip Elmore, of owner's project manager Dore & Whitier Management Partners, explained to the committee. "They'll do it in an open book fashion, so if the money's unspent for trade or direct cost work, unspent money is your money.
"What it means is they'll guarantee to deliver for that price. They won't exceed that price. It could be less than that price."
But after months of hearing that the project was running at or below budget, Thursday was the first time that the School Building Committee had a guarantee that it will continue to do so right up until the doors to the new academic wing open in April 2018.
At least, as much of a guarantee as it can get.
"If something happens that's out of their control, they're entitled to certain adjustments as it goes down the path," Elmore cautioned. "If, God forbid, a natural disaster happens."
But he reminded the committee that this GMP is a benefit of the School Building and School committees' 2015 decision to choose the CM at-risk method of construction, the process preferred by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which is expected to fund nearly 60 percent of the final project.
"In design-bid-build [the other construction model], you don't get to share in the savings, necessarily," Elmore said.
The other piece of positive financial news to come out of Thursday's meeting involved the project's contingency funds.
Included in Turner's $52.3 million GMP is a $1,084,585 line item for construction contingency. The district also has a separate $2 million construction contingency of its own that it has not touched since the project started.
At some point down the road, the School Building Committee may want to consider using some of that contingency money — if unused — for two elements that have been removed from the scope of the project: a new parking lot and an outdoor terraced learning space.
Neither are currently in the budget but both have been the subject of significant discussion this spring, particularly after the School Building Committee spent money to do design work and learn the cost of the two projects.
The parking lot bid came in at about $700,000, and the outdoor space is priced at about $130,000, Elmore said on Thursday. As "site" work, neither would be eligible for matching funds from the MSBA; the entire cost of either would be on the district.
"Right now, the budget doesn't allow us to add it in," Chairman Mark Schiek said. "In three to six months, we may have the opportunity to revisit those items because we haven't spent any contingency."
No one disputes the need for a new parking lot at the school, but some, including town officials in Lanesborough, have argued that the parking lot should be paid for from the $5 million gift Williams College made toward the building project.
Elmore said there is no reason to rush a decision on how to pay for the work, which likely would not be done until after the 2017-18 academic year.
"If it was just us and there was no Williams College gift fund, I'd say around January would be your drop-dead decision day," Elmore said. "In many ways, at that point, [the project] will be down to room finishes — ceiling tile, flooring, paint."
In other words, the project will be even less likely to need to tap contingency reserves.
In fact, Elmore said on Thursday that the project in some ways already is a long way toward knowing whether it will need the contingency funds.
"You are 20 percent of the way into this job," he said. "You have captured a lot of the costs for the unknowns. Where are they? In the ground and in the existing building."
Although much of the building is being demolished at the project's end, the areas undergoing renovation, like the gym and auditorium, already have been opened up, revealing any of the "unknowns," Elmore referred to.
The School Building Committee voted to recommend the $52,266,600 guaranteed maximum price to the full School Committee but took no action relative to the parking lot or outdoor space.
It did hear a report that plans for the outdoor space have been scaled back, making it more modest than the amphitheater originally incorporated in the design — and then cut in the value engineering process.
"It's more of an open learning space," Principal Mary MacDonald said. "There's random seating so you could have a music or theater performance, but you could also have classes there, too. It's a substantially smaller scale than what the initial drawing was."
Elsewhere on the design front, MacDonald informed her colleagues about some final choices that had been made on exterior finishes.
Though the majority of the new construction will be red brick, in line with the "old" parts of the 1960s-era school, there were choices to make about accents to the new construction.
The bottom of the building will be skirted with locally mined Ashfield stone, and a steel gray color was chosen for corrugated metal paneling that is incorporated into the design.
"Both our architect and landscape architect are happy with the choices," said committee member Thomas Bartels, who serves on the design working group.
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