The Select Board also wants to register its displeasure with the state over the length of time it took to pave Water Street.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The town's new police station is tracking well with its budget and schedule, even if progress appears slow to the casual observer, the Select Board was told on Monday evening.
Greg Devlin of the owner's project manager, Architectural Consulting Group, appeared before the board to give members an update on the renovation and expansion of the former Turner House on Simonds Road.
And he recognized that the not all the project's progress is immediately obvious.
"People are probably driving by and saying, 'What's going on? It's been like this for three months?' " Devlin said.
But in fact, the interior of the former veterans home is complete and site work is "90 percent complete," Devlin said. The foundation slab for the addition was being poured this week and the project is on track to be closed up in time to allow work to continue through the winter.
"It's probably 14 days behind schedule, but that can easily be made up," Devlin said. "Once walls start going up, you can make that up."
Unlike the town's other major public building project, the middle-high school, there is no firm deadline to finish the station, but the town hopes to be able to move its Police Department out of its current, cramped and inefficient home in the municipal building next summer.
Devlin and Town Manager Jason Hoch Monday signaled that this was a strong possibility.
Devlin showed the Select Board the building's budget and explained that, to date, it has seen $53,000 in change orders on the $4.7 million project.
"That's like 1 percent of the contract," he said. "We try to keep it at zero, but that's hard to do."
Hoch said that some of the change orders were adjustments around the water and sewer connections that made sense to the town once it started digging into the project.
On the other hand, the town was fortunate when it went into the building it purchased earlier this year.
"When you go into an old building, you always find surprises," Hoch said, drawing the board's attention to the budget line for framing modifications. "We were expecting the likelihood of a higher number. But to get through a whole building and only find $9,000 in framing modifications says a lot about the architect's preplanning and a little bit of luck."
Devlin, too, praised the work of architect Caolo Bieniek and Associates.
"Any questions we have, he has a quick turnaround so it doesn't hold up the project," Devlin said. "[General contractor Salco Construction of Pittsfield] is a good contractor. They want to do the right thing. Anything we need, any extras, he's helpful to provide it.
"You do have a great team. It makes my job easier — not that I'm going to give any money back," Devlin joked." It's just everyone pulling the same way, and it always works."
Hoch, in turn, reflected some of the praise back onto Devlin.
"Greg undersells his own role in this, but I can't say enough things about his timeliness, responsiveness and problem solving," Hoch said.
Another project that has proven more problematic also was on the board's agenda Monday.
The four members present voted unanimously to send a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation expressing the town's displeasure with the pace of the Water Street reconstruction project.
Hoch has repeatedly reminded the board in recent weeks that the town has no control over the renovation of State Route 43, but the board members, prompted by Jeffrey Thomas, decided to register the town's disappointment with the proper authorities at Mass DOT so they can take the town's concerns into account on future projects.
"The purpose [of the letter] is, in the nicest possible way, to say that if you do it again, you need to do it better," Thomas said. "You need to do it in a way that's more streamlined and less disruptive to our community.
"We appreciate the improvements and understand the complexity of the project. … But for a long period of time, the asphalt was removed from the road and, unfortunately, the timing of the rain made that treacherous to travel."
Thomas said the letter he drafted was in part to help inform the conversation when MassDOT addresses the next portion of Route 43, south of the current project.
"In discussion with Jason, we thought it would be beneficial to register with DOT our polite complaint so staff there has the ability to use a different contractor or manage the project differently next time," Thomas said.
Before voting on the letter, Hugh Daley asked Hoch whether such a letter could negatively impact the town's chances to work with MassDOT on future projects. Hoch assured the board it would not.
"It helps to have something in the files as they work on future projects," Hoch said. "They're boxed in by a bunch of other rules and parameters, but noting this project has concerns and drawbacks — it sits there for the next project."
Thomas indicated that he felt the board owed it to townspeople to go on record with their concerns.
"I heard a lot of people complain," Thomas said. "And sitting here sometimes, you say, 'Gee, I wish I could do more.' This gives me a little bit of satisfaction that I tried to respond in this little way to what I sensed people in the community felt."
In other business on Monday, the Select Board, acting on the recommendation of the town clerk, voted unanimously to institute a town policy prohibiting electioneering within 50 feet of Town Hall during the early voting period. The policy mirrors the rule currently in place at Williamstown Elementary School on Election Day.
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