WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Fire District's Building Committee could have a recommendation on an owner's project manager for its planned fire station project as soon as Friday afternoon.
Building Committee Chair Elaine Neely on Wednesday reported to the Prudential Committee that her panel received nine responses to the request for qualifications issued by the district and conducted interviews with three finalists last week.
Representatives from Construction Monitoring Services, Colliers Property Management and the Architectural Consulting Group met for about an hour apiece over Zoom with the Building Committee, which includes the representatives from the district and the community at large.
All three of the finalists have experience managing public safety building projects, including one, ACG, which served as the OPM on the recently completed Williamstown Police station.
It was not the only finalist to post local experience. Colliers served as OPM on Berkshire County projects that include the new Williams Inn and, as Strategic Building Solutions, Colegrove Park Elementary School in North Adams.
"Actually, any one of [the nine respondents] could have done the job," Neely said. "It was very difficult to narrow it down, and it will be even harder to choose how we rank the last three.
"We will give you our first ranking and our second ranking so that when we get into negotiating for fees, if we don't like the outcome with No. 1, we reserve the right to move on to No. 2 on the list."
Neely said she asked the members of the Building Committee to rank the three finalists after the interviews and that the numerical grades were very similar.
"If I had my choice, I could take a section out of each of the applications and put them together as one OPM," she said. "It's not that way. … It will be interesting to see what the outcome of Friday is."
While the district is a long way from putting a shovel in the ground on a new firehouse, it is getting closer to taking delivery on a $380,000 tanker truck, which district voters approved in June.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Noyes shared photos of the truck being built for the district.
"The biggest thing is the tank system along with the vacuum pump," Noyes said. "We'll be able to fill this in three minutes and will be able to empty it even quicker.
"It's a big step for us. It's definitely what we need. South Williamstown [beyond the town's water line], this will be the second truck out of the station, backing up the first truck. Two years ago, we had a company come in and assess what we're doing, and this was the biggest recommendation they had."
In other business on Wednesday, Chief Craig Pedercini reviewed with the committee the six fire hydrants in town that are owned by the city of North Adams in light of recent issues the city has had with hydrant usage during fires.
There are three on North Hoosac Road and three in the White Oaks area, including one near the former Broad Brook School, Pedercini said.
Two of the three in the White Oaks area are redundant, he said; they are duplicated by town-owned hydrants in the vicinity.
The other four hydrants were cause for concern by members of the committee.
"Is there some kind of an agreement we can have or see of the [town] Water Department would be willing to take over these hydrants?" David Moresi asked. "None of the hydrants in North Adams are maintained. It's a big problem."
Pedercini said his understanding is that the North Adams water department is understaffed, and he knows that the Williamstown Water Department is always busy. He told the Prudential Committee he would reach out to the town department to see if an arrangement could be worked out.
"If [Department of Public Works Director Chris Lemoine] is open to considering doing that, whether we have to pay him for the service or North Adams does, I'd love to have the work done in Williamstown with Williamstown resources because North Adams is overwhelmed," Prudential Committee Chair Richard Reynolds said.
Pedercini in his monthly report also told the committee that the town will be facing two bridge projects in the next couple of years, one of which may impact how the district directs its truck.
The first, on Main Street across Hemlock Brook, is less of an issue for the Fire Department because it already avoids the span since its weight limit was dropped in recent years, Pedercini said.
Another Main Street bridge, across the Green River near East Lawn Cemetery, could present some issues. Pedercini said the Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to maintain two-way traffic on the Route 2 bridge for most of the project, but there may be "four or five times" during a project several years in length that the bridge will be closed.
"We have to give thought to how we're going to respond to any calls on the east side of that bridge," Pedercini said.
At the end of Wednesday's meeting, district clerk Sarah Currie informed the committee about the schedule for the upcoming district election. Two members of the Prudential Committee, Moresi and Ed Mcgowan, are seeing their terms come to an end this spring. Nomination papers to run for the committee will be available on Feb. 22, and they need to be returned with the signatures of at least 32 voters by April 6. The annual district election and district meeting are scheduled for May 25.
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Williamstown DIRE Committee Member Running for Select Board
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A member of the town's Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee has announced his intention to run for an open three-year seat on the Select Board this May.
Jeffrey Johnson on Friday issued a news release saying that he hopes to "make a difference in the quality of town governance and in the fabric of the lives of his neighbors."
Johnson, 47, grew up in Williamstown, attending both the local elementary school and Mount Greylock Regional School, and currently works for the commonwealth's Department of Developmental Services in its Pittsfield/North Adams office.
"I love and appreciate this town and, to me, that means I have an obligation to serve to the best of my abilities," Johnson said in the release.
Jeffrey Johnson, 47, grew up in Williamstown, attending both the local elementary school and Mount Greylock Regional School, and currently works for the commonwealth's Department of Developmental Services in its Pittsfield/North Adams office.
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Mount Greylock was one of the first districts to sign up and take advantage of a state-sponsored pool testing program. Essentially, samples (non-invasive nasal swabs) from a batch of individuals are bundled together into a single sample that is analyzed in the lab.
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The chair of the town's committee on diversity, equity and inclusion Monday reported to his colleagues that he had a long conversation with the town's acting chief of police and that future dialogues between the committee and Police Department are planned.
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Six of the eight committee members in a virtual meeting selected Colliers, which has offices in Boston and Agawam and throughout the country, from among three firms the panel interviewed.
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