PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Taconic High School construction budget is trending on target, according to Thomas Meyer of project manager Skanska USA.
Construction on the $120.8 million high school is 43 percent complete, and hitting the halfway mark in the coming weeks. On Monday, the School Building Needs Commission, along with state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark, Mayor Linda Tyer, and an array of city councilors took a tour of the building.
Following the tour, Skanska officials reported that the project is both on time and on budget.
Meyer used the contingency budgets as the way to track the project. Those budgets are used for unexpected circumstances and if costs for certain pieces exceed what was originally budgeted. Meyer said about a third of the total contingency is remaining — $2.4 million was spent and $4.8 million remains.
"It's like going into the bottom of the ninth, I'd rather be ahead 2-1 than behind 2-1. We're ahead," Meyers said.
There are three contingency funds. The Gilbane Construction, which is managing the construction, contingency is in the guaranteed maximum price.
"To date, they've spent about 40 percent of their construction contingency, meaning they have 60 percent left. That's good news because they are 43 percent completed construction. If you ever get ahead on your contingency based on your percentage of complete that's an indication that there is an issue," Meyers said. "They're doing good. They are not using contingency more than they are doing the project."
"We used about $1 million of that for unsuitable soil. The good is since then, we've used less than $50,000," Meyers said.
The owner's soft costs are for such things as furniture. Meyer said only 19 percent of that was spent so far, and Skanska is now gearing up to order the furniture in the spring. Right now the company is finalizing cost estimates.
Those contingencies are all worked into the project budget. If those do not get spent, that would mean the city would not have to bond as much at the end of the project. The anticipation is that the Massachusetts School Building Authority will reimburse about 65 percent of the total costs. The city is expecting to have to borrow $46 million but has only financed $10 million for the long term. The city will be bonding throughout the project, and then doing a final close out once all of the costs are known.
Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol is already looking at how to spend anything that comes under the authorization. What isn't included in the project is any work on the track, football field, or baseball field. Those are costs that the MSBA won't reimburse and were pulled from the design to keep costs down. If the contingency isn't spent, Krol suggested directing some of those funds to fix those field up.
"Hopefully that is a consideration for some of the contingency dollars," Krol said.
Superintendent Jason McCandless said that decision is out of the School Building Needs Commission's hands. The only way to direct those funds would be through another process with the City Council and the mayor's office.
"We would certainly be happy with moving forward with that and sort of complete the entire campus. I think it would be up to the City Council and the mayor to direct that money," McCandless said.
Krol said he believes the rest of the campus should be fixed up if there are savings ultimately seen.
"It is a brand-new school, brand-new campus, and we ought to have a brand new track," Krol said.
Meyer said he already has some estimates and the costs can range from doing the bare minimum for $400,000 to doing a full replacement of everything at $4.5 million.
The School Building Needs Commission held only a brief meeting following the site tour. John Benzinger, from Skanska, reported that the work is progressing on schedule. The workers have been hitting the milestones as set out in the project schedule, he said.
The commission members expressed delight in the building's progress.
"To see the building from design and discussion to visualizing walls and the auditorium is phenomenal," Chairwoman Kathleen Amuso said. "I can't wait to see when this building is done."
City Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo was particularly impressed with the cleanliness of the construction site.
"It was probably the cleanest and nicest looking site I've been on," she said.
The project is expected to be completed next July with the students moving into the building for the 2018-2019 school year. Then, the current building will be fenced off and demolished. The last step would be to reconstruct the playing fields that were lost on the ground of the current school.
iBerkshires has been following the construction since the beginning. Below is a slideshow from each visit. The latest photos are first, and then the slideshow is in chronological order since the start of construction.
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Pou's No-Hitter Lifts Force 12U to Dalton CRA Title
By Rick DuteauiBerkshires.com Sports
DALTON, Mass - Sunday’s performance was exactly the sort of thing that Berkshire Force 12U coach Jess Glebus hoped for, at exactly the right time. Just days ahead of a big trip to Florida to compete in the Babe Ruth World Series, the Force earned the Dalton CRA Softball Tournament title with a 10-0 win over the Saratoga Thunder, at Pine Grove Park.
Amanda Pou threw a no-hitter and every batter in the lineup reached base to contribute in the victory. Only one Thunder player reached base, and she was quickly thrown out by catcher Issabelle Macdonald and she attempted to steal second.
“We played Chatham yesterday and we didn’t play well, but we came out today and we were a totally different team and we were ready to play,” Coach Glebus said. “Our bats were alive, our defense was alive and our pitching was outstanding. I’m not complaining, but for some reason, on Sundays we come out alive. We really did play well today, and that’s when it counts.”
The Force won their Babe Ruth New England Regional earlier this summer to qualify for the World Series. The team heads down to Jensen Beach, Florida, on Thursday, and this tournament served as a nice dress rehearsal for the action ahead.
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The Friends of Pontoosuc Lake received $15,000 from the Community Preservation Act with the intent to restore the beach on the Hancock Road side. The city's Parks, Open Space and Natural Resource Program Manager Jim... click for more
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