Dan Colli of Perkins Eastman in Boston describes the options to the Mount Greylock Transition Committee.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Transition Committee on Thursday got some sobering news about the cost estimates for site work it plans to fund from a $5 million capital gift the district received from Williams College.
Architect Dan Colli of Perkins Eastman reported that before the district even considers adding a new multi-purpose field and bleachers to the west side of the school, the district's priority items require a budget a little north of $3.7 million.
That's concerning both because the committee has targeted a goal of $1.5 million for a building endowment fund and because many in the community were hoping the school could add another football/soccer/lacrosse field to take pressure off the current John T. Allen Field.
The new grass multi-purpose field alone would add nearly $280,000 to the project, bleachers for the field would run $139,000, lighting $383,000 and a press box (with a lift) would cost $242,000. That would make the base price of a new field a little more than $1 million. Make that field artificial turf, and the cost would be closer to $2 million, according to estimates provided by the Boston-based architect.
Committee members seemed unwilling to discuss anything that would bring the total project's cost in at more than $3.5 million.
"I agree that $3.5 million is our number," Al Terranova said. "I'm torn because we're spending tens of millions of dollars on this [addition/renovation project]. We should build something comparable to that building.
"Do what you want, but we can't touch that $1.5 million. That's the Holy Grail. Someone is going to be sitting here 10 years from now when the boiler goes."
Of the $3.7 million in Perkins Eastman's baseline project estimate, $1.5 million is for a new building that will house the district's central administration and storage space both for athletic equipment and Mount Greylock's buildings and grounds department.
There is no space either for the superintendent's office or equipment storage in the new Mount Greylock because neither uses are ones in which the Massachusetts School Building Authority would participate.
From Day 1 of the current $64 million building project, the district has known that the central office, long housed at Mount Greylock, would have to move off-site.
Likewise, the district has a couple of four-wheelers and other vehicles for grounds maintenance that "need a home," Colli told the committee.
"The MSBA doesn't worry about a rural school might have versus an urban school," Colli explained. "Everyone gets the same."
In the same vein, the MSBA puts a cap on the amount of site work that can be included in a building project as costs eligible for reimbursement under the state program. Mount Greylock reached its cap before it got into items like the parking lot or the athletic fields. The former is being funded from an owner's contingency line item in the building project budget; the latter has been targeted by the committee as an expense to be applied to the Williams gift.
Included in the $3.7 million figure is $238,000 for accessibility site work on Mount Greylock's current baseball, softball and multi-purpose fields. That includes parking, paths and viewing areas at the fields. An additional $153,000 is designated for site prep and demolition, including the removal of the current non-Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant bleachers and press box at John T. Allen Field.
No matter what else the district does, there are two items that are imperative, with or without the Williams gift: finding a home for the central office and addressing the current ADA issues on the athletic fields.
As a matter of law, when you spend a certain percentage of the property's value on making improvements to a public facility, you are required to bring the entire facility up to code.
"We secured a variance from the [commonwealth's] Architectural Access Board and have to address [field accessibility] in a three-year time period," Colli told the committee.
Colli took the committee through several options that were considered for configuring the field and the administration building before arriving at the preferred option.
Committee members offered some additional feedback about the orientation of the planned pre-fab building, but most of the discussion centered around the cost and, specifically, how to bring it in line with plan to leave $1.5 million in a building endowment.
The cost estimates presented on Thursday were higher than those presented in an initial study presented to the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee in September 2017, but the 2017 numbers included just the field work, at a maximum cost of $2.8 million. At the time, the committee was estimating it could address the central administration space for about $500,000.
Back then, the committee was still thinking it could buy or rent existing space for the superintendent. That option that has since been discarded because of the projected cost of modifications to any of the potential off-site buildings.
"The purchase price always looked like, 'Maybe,' but when you looked at making it a municipal building, there were code compliance issues that skyrocketed it," Transition Committee Chairman Joe Bergeron said.
Chris Dodig, who has been the Mount Greylock (and now Transition) Committee's point person on working with architects on proposals to use the Williams College gift, agreed with Terranova that the $1.5 million reserve target still is an important goal.
"It's important to recognize that [the Perkins Eastman designs] are a work in progress, and we as a committee will have to sharpen the pencils and decide what we really want," Dodig said.
"I think it's better to use $3.3 million or $3.4 million as a number we feel comfortable spending. … $3.7 million isn't that far from $3.4 million, and I hope we can get there."
No matter what path the Transition Committee chooses on the project, the central administration will have to go somewhere in the fall, and on Thursday, Superintendent Kimberley Grady told the committee that on Friday she would start the procurement process on the double-wide trailers she will need for her staff.
Grady, who recently was chosen to be the PreK-12 district's full-time superintendent, also discussed the plan for moving the middle/high school into Mount Greylock's new three-story academic wing over the summer.
Grady said the district has hired Methuen-based Diamond Relocation to work on the site from June 21 to 28 to pack and move everything being reused from the current school building.
"We'll be out of the building altogether on June 28, turning it over to the building project [for demolition]," Grady said. "Only essential personnel will be in the building June 25-28."
Space for Mount Greylock and central office operations that routinely continue in July and August has been found at the district's other two buildings, Williamstown Elementary and Lanesborough Elementary, and at Williamstown's Town Hall.
"We'll have on the district website where people can be reached," Grady said. "We should be able to receive messages and forward calls through the summer months."
In other business on Thursday, the Transition Committee met for about 40 minutes in executive session to discuss strategy with respect to negotiations with nonunion personnel, Grady, and to discuss strategy regarding pending litigation.
When it returned to open session, Dodig made a motion that passed unanimously.
"I will move that we authorize our attorney, Christopher Strang, to send a letter to our OPM and construction company for the purpose of protecting our rights moving forward and moving to a timely completion of our building project," Dodig moved.
The Transition Committee is scheduled to meet again on Thursday.
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Have the college move the Bubriski house on to the high school grounds, and have the college update and bring it into compliance. The college would have updated it anyway. Name it the Dagmar Bubriski Administrative Building. Win-win for all.
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