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Mount Greylock School Committee to Decide on Administration Building

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Mount Greylock's Phase 1 Subcommittee meets on Friday at Lanesborough Elementary School.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee will be asked Tuesday whether it wants to accept one of two bids to build a new central administration building for the pre-K-12 school district.
 
On Friday, the School Committee's Phase 1 Subcommittee reviewed the bids received for the project, which will replace offices lost when portions of the old Mount Greylock were demolished last year and provide space for public restrooms to serve the middle-high school's athletic fields.
 
One key issue in deciding Tuesday's question: Does the School Committee want to pull the trigger and install lavatory fixtures in those public restrooms now or build the space and install the plumbing to allow for full restrooms down the road.
 
That decision will decide which of the two quotes received is the low bid.
 
The two bids received by the district were very similar. Kurtz Inc. of Westfield submitted a base bid of $2.178 million; David J. Tierney Jr. Inc. of Pittsfield's base bid was $2.184 million.
 
Tierney's bid came in slightly higher — .27 percent above Kurtz's quoted price.
 
But the project was sent to bid with the fixtures in the public restroom as an add alternate, and with that factored in, Tierney is the low bidder.
 
"All in," including the fixtures, Tierney's bid is $2.49 million. Kurtz's is $2.54 million.
 
In September, when the full School Committee authorized sending the project out to bid, it had an estimated price of $2.1 million in mind for the base bid, so the two responding bidders came in more or less on target.
 
That leaves the extra expense for sinks, toilets and urinals as the big question facing the committee at Tuesday's special noon meeting at Mount Greylock.
 
The committee has discussed building the plumbed restroom space now and fund-raising to install the bathroom fixtures at a later date.
 
Phase 1 Subcommittee member Perri Petricca of Lanesborough said the district would save money by installing the bathrooms now, during the building project, rather than going back to install them later.
 
"You're never going to get this bathroom cheaper than you are right now," said Petricca, the CEO of Pittsfield-based Petricca Industries.
 
Asked by subcommittee and School Committee member Dan Caplinger for a ballpark of how much money could be saved, Petricca said the installation could cost 20 to 30 percent more if done at a later date.
 
"You could be over $400,000 in a heartbeat," Petricca said.
 
The multipurpose building, planned for an area south of the middle-high school, is one of the things the district intends to pay for from a $5 million capital gift Mount Greylock received from Williams College at the start of the addition/renovation project at the school.
 
The "legacy" Mount Greylock School Committee — the panel constituted before the district's expansion from a Grade 7-12 district and the election of a new School Committee — identified three priorities for the capital gift: a new administration building, renovation of the school's athletic fields to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title IX and creation of a reserve for extraordinary maintenance (new roofs, boilers, etc.) down the road.
 
The original $5 million gift has been held as part of the college's endowment fund and has grown in value since it was given in February 2016.
 
But the gift also has been tapped for expenses, including design work for the fields and multipurpose building and the construction trailers that currently house the central administration staff.
 
The district offices were housed at the former Mount Greylock. But the School Building Committee and School Committee decided at the outset of the building project not to include those offices in the new Mount Greylock because the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which helped fund the building project, would not pay for square footage for district offices.
 
Likewise, the Massachusetts School Building Authority has a limited budget for "site work" in a building project, and Mount Greylock's building project ate up the allowable exterior expenses long before addressing the playing fields.
 
The School Committee created the Phase 1 Subcommittee to address the need for a new administration building. After an exhaustive search for available existing square footage in Lanesborough and Williamstown, the School Committee decided to go with a new build on the Mount Greylock campus.
 
The athletic fields project is back on the drawing board after bids this fall came back significantly higher than anticipated. The School Committee recently decided to send the field project back out for bid, seeking a lower cost and leaving the door open for maintaining all natural grass fields rather than building a multisport artificial turf field at the school.
 
Meanwhile, the district office staff continues to operate out of converted construction trailers. Ironically, on the day the Phase 1 Subcommittee reviewed bids for a new building, the district's administrative staff was coping with a late night power outage that affected the whole Mount Greylock campus but was particularly hard on the trailers, which are not hooked into the school's backup power generator.
 
The Phase 1 Subcommittee, in consultation with architect Dan Colli of Perkins Eastman and Petricca, determined that either Kurtz or Tierney would be a good partner for the district. Colli noted that Kurtz, while in Westfield, has done projects with Perkins Eastman and work in the Berkshires and is familiar with the building inspector in Williamstown.
 
"I wouldn't worry about the fact that he's in Westfield," Colli said.
 
"Dave [Tierney] has been around a long time," Petricca said. "They do good work."
 
The subcommittee made no recommendation to the full School Committee as to which bid it should select, other than noting that the decision comes down to whether the full committee wants to complete the public restrooms now or wait until later.
 
The subcommittee Friday did decide to ask district staff to issue an request for proposals to find either and owner's project manager or a clerk of the works to oversee the construction of the proposed $2.2 million building.
 
Colli and Petricca told the subcommittee that they could expect to see responses with price tags ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. Petricca named several potential OPMs in the area, and Colli said that any firm that offers OPM services could also provide a clerk of the works if the district decides to go that route.
 
The subcommittee also heard an update from Mount Greylock Director of Buildings and Grounds Tim Sears, who is taking the lead on the district's plan to create space for storage of outdoor equipment and supplies and space for the Nordic ski team to use for waxing skis. Those are two other spaces that were lost in the demolition of the former Mount Greylock.
 
Sears reported that he has spec'd a 50-by-100-foot steel building on a concrete pad for a maintenance garage. Caplinger asked Sears to bring a proposal to the full School Committee at its regular November meeting on Nov. 14.

Tags: administrative offices,   MGRHS school project,   MGRSD,   

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Photech Mill Housing Project Could Break Ground in Spring

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Elton Ogden of Berkshire Housing addresses the Select Board on Monday evening.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The former Photech mill building on Cole Avenue could be used for housing as early as summer 2021.
 
On Monday, the Select Board heard from the president and CEO of Berkshire Housing Development Corp., who said the Pittsfield-based non-profit was close to finalizing funding for the $16 million project that will utilize the existing mill building and build townhouses at 330 Cole Ave., creating 41 units of affordable housing.
 
"Last week, we had a call with the state folks who are behind tax credits and soft debt, and we mutually agreed to try to close the deal in February or March," Elton Ogden said. "That aligns with the construction season. We have a little bit more asbestos abatement to be done … and we would anticipate about a 14-month construction schedule, which, again, would line up nicely.
 
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