image description
A diagram used to explain the new phasing plan. Area C, the last area planned for completion, is depicted in blue.

Mount Greylock Confident of Keeping Timeline, Planning for the Worst

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Turner Construction's Mike Giso addresses the Mount Greylock Transition Committee and School Building Committee on Tuesday.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The construction manager for the $64 million addition/renovation project at Mount Greylock Regional School expressed confidence Tuesday that the building will be ready in time for the start of the 2018-19 academic year.
 
The elected and appointed residents who serve as committee members in the district still want to start planning ahead for what happens if it is not.
 
Mike Giso of Turner Construction addressed a joint meeting of the school district's Transition Committee and the Mount Greylock School Building Committee to explain the revised phasing plan for the building project.
 
As discussed by the School Building Committee this winter, that plan changed from the original target of moving classes into a three-story academic wing over the upcoming April vacation. The new timeline has all operations moving into the new and renovated spaces this summer.
 
But it is an admittedly tight timeline.
 
As laid out Tuesday by Giso, the last section of the building slated for completion is what is being called Area C, the new school's central core that ties together the academic wing, cafeteria and renovated spaces like the auditorium and gym and which includes the new library.
 
That space, at the center of the new school, is scheduled to be finished "early August," Giso said.
 
Everything else, except for the school's renovated auditorium, should be wrapped up by the end of July. The auditorium likely will be the last element to be completed because it backs up on the 1960 school building that is slated to be abated and demolished immediately after the conclusion of the current academic year.
 
"We have a high level of confidence," Giso said of the building's availability for the start of school this fall. "The fact that we're finishing a lot of these areas months before we have to have the certificate of occupancy in hand obviously helps with that … even though you could suggest we're pushing the envelope [in Area C]."
 
School Building Committee member Hugh Daley said he has confidence in the revised phasing plan but, joking that he is a pessimist by nature, encouraged the district to consider its "Plan B" if Area C falls behind schedule.
 
"We have a trigger point in there," Daley said. "At some point in about May or early June, you guys are going to have to make a decision on pulling down the back building. You have to have a timeline, and if you haven't hit dates by a certain point, you guys have to say, 'Don't touch that building.' "
 
Interim Superintendent Kimberley Grady told the committee that the district has just two options: have a new building or delay demolition of the old one.
 
"Typically, when you miss a mark, you have the opportunity to bus kids to an abandoned building," Grady said. "The only one in the area is [Adams Memorial Middle School], but their boiler system is decommissioned, so it's not an option. The other option would be bringing in trailers … If we needed that number of trailers, we'd need to know we need that now [in order to order enough]."
 
In the end, the School Building Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Transition Committee approve a contract revision that reflects the new phasing plan for the project after the district has consulted with its attorney to make sure the contract amendment preserves the district's rights as an owner.
 
But first, it heard from a Williamstown resident and parent in the district, Chris Kapiloff, who also is the chief executive officer of a glass company that is a subcontractor on school projects around the commonwealth. Kapiloff, who said he has worked with both the district's owner's project manager, Dore & Whittier, and its architect, Boston's Perkins Eastman, was less sanguine about Turner's revised timeline.
 
"I've literally worked in hundreds of buildings like this," Kapiloff said. "Honestly, I would give you guys a coin flip at best of finishing on time. You're admittedly razor thin on your schedule. If anything goes wrong — if a piece of equipment breaks, if there's a sprinkler system without the right pressure, I can give you dozens of things that have happened that are outside of everyone's control — especially when your schedule only give you one shot at the end to get everything right …"
 
"I have no idea what's led you guys to this point, but if it can be four months late, it can be five months late. It's not hard to imagine [the timeline] moving into October."
 
School Building Committee and Transition Committee member Carolyn Greene clarified that the building project is "not four or five months late." Rather, the phasing of the project has shifted; the overall end date for the project, in December 2018, has not changed.
 
Giso told the committees his firm has "never not delivered."
 
"[Turner Vice President and General Manager] Carl Stewart made it clear when he was here last week that this is not going to be the first," Giso said.

Tags: MGRHS school project,   

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Williamstown Panel Discussion Reflects on Area's Original Occupants

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Heather Bruegl of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians participates in Thursday's panel discussion.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A 90-minute panel discussion is not going to undo hundreds of years of erasing and ignoring the presence of indigenous people.
 
But it can't hurt.
 
On Thursday evening, the Boston University School of Theology Faith and Ecological Justice Program hosted a talk that brought together town officials, a Williams College professor and Heather Bruegl, the director of cultural affairs for the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.
 
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