North Adams OPM Search Committee Picks Three Candidates

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The OPM Selection Committee has chosen three firms as candidates to be the owner's project manager for the Brayton/Greylock project. 
Two are very familiar names: Skanska USA Building Inc. of Springfield managed the $121 million Taconic High School project in Pittsfield and the recently completed Wahconah Regional High School, which is holding its ribbon cutting on Wednesday morning, and Colliers International of Agawam, which oversaw the $30 million Colegrove Park Elementary School (as Strategic Building Solutions).
The third finalist chosen was Arcadis of Middletown, Conn., which has worked on a number of school projects including four accelerated repair projects in Worcester in 2019-20.
The respondents to the request for services were ranked on a point system according to predetermined criteria by the members of the committee — Superintendent Barbara Malkas, Business Administrator Nancy Rauscher, School Committee members Richard Alcombright and Tara Jacobs, City Council President Lisa Blackmer and Benjamin Lamb, former councilor and parent. 
Skanska and Colliers ranked highest, with 619 and 616 points, respectively. The next four were within a 33-point spread with Arcadis the highest at 566. The other candidates were P3 150 of Norwell that was OPM for the rebuilding of Rowe Elementary School in 2018, Boston's PCA360, and Atlantic Construction & Management Inc. of Concord.
Bids were opened on Friday and packets sent out to the committee members; interviews are being scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday with a School Building Committee meeting set to vote the recommendations on Thursday. The district expects to submit the choice of OPM to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by Feb. 4. 
The owner's project manager will manage the entire project on behalf of the school district. This may include planning, construction and design, and oversight of contractors and subcontractors to the project on task. 
The MSBA requires that at least three candidates be interviewed and Rauscher said a fourth could be added if the committee desired. Members, however, noted that their top choices had differed only differed in order. 
The exception was Jacobs, who had P3 has her third choice. She agreed with the others that Collliers and Skanska stood out for their strong financials but liked a line in P3's bid that said "'well-informed communities make good decisions' and it just seemed to come through in their proposal that they really got how working with the community and weaving that through the process was so important."
The community aspect had to be foundational, she said, and felt that not all the submissions grasped that as much as the construction. However, Jacobs said she was fine in forwarding the top three. 
"I was so happy to see these six that contributed to our experience because I think it speaks to our project and the interest that drew them," she said. "These are really fine submissions. So it was really a challenge to write them because there wasn't a bad one in the lot."
Alcombright said there was a lot of boilerplate to get through in the submissions but felt what put Skanska and Colliers over the top was their financials, with which Rauscher agreed. 
"Skanska, in particular, I thought had a really strong approach to the upfront work that needed," she said. "I thought they seem to have a real deep process for that and a real good understanding of what kind of analysis and outreach might need to be done on that front. 
The finalists will be interviewed on 10 categories with a scale of one to 10 for each category. These will include the grasp of project requirements; design approach and methodology; personnel and roles; related project and previous work; technical project management; responsiveness to committee concerns and working relationships, and relevant issues as well as references.
"I know that Ms. Jacobs has already mentioned the idea of building community capacity for understanding the outcomes of feasibility," said Rauscher. "So that may be an area that we would want to include in this area of 'other relevant issues.'"
The questions will be asked by a panel that includes Jacobs, Lamb, and Malkas. This will not constitute a quorum so the interviews will not be public. Alcombright asked not to be included because of his three-year relationshiop with Colliers' personnel as mayor during the building of Colegrove.
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Blue Sox Blast Past SteepleCats Sports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Antonio Guerrero went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and six RBIs Monday to lead the Valley Blue Sox to a 10-5 win over the SteepleCats at Joe Wolfe Field in New England Collegiate Baseball League action.
Jevon Mason went 4-for-4, and Sam Franco had a double, a triple and three RBIs for the Blue Sox, who improved to 11-7.
William Binder homered, and Cedric Rose doubled for the SteepleCats.
North Adams (4-14) goes to Bristol on Wednesday.
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