I was hoping to walk away from today’s special meeting of the Board of Selectmen with a complete spreadsheet of tasks and costs to get Peck Place School back up and running, but it may have to wait until sometime after tonight’s Board of Finance meeting (7:30 p.m.)
Nearly $2 million is being requested to do all the necessary work, including replacing floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, cabinetry, painting, lighting, plumbing etc. and it is not something the members of the Board of Selectmen (BOS), Board of Education (BOE) or later, the Board of Finance (BOF) take lightly.
The BOS has been dealing with this issue for more than a month and the BOE has been on it since Feb. 6, when a water pipe burst and caused damage – some major – to 12 rooms at the elementary school.
Everything moved quickly from that day forward, the children were immediately split up and placed in the two other elementary schools so their learning process would not be interrupted. Then they were moved to the YALE Campus off of Marsh Hill Road, and to their credit the teachers and children adjusted to their new situations flawlessly. Most of the kids even enjoyed the adventure.
First Selectman Jim Zeoli commended the BOS for doing their due diligence and bringing their thoughts and suggestions to the table.
In a nutshell, ALL of the numbers and specifics did not come out as many of Orange Live’s readers had hoped, but I can give you the answers to some questions that you’ve asked.
• Insurance will cover just the Phase 1 where damage occurred
BOE Business Director Kevin McNabola said the amount is in the six figures, but it will not ALL be covered (This could mean $100,000 to $900,000) the exact amount of reimbursement is unknown.
• Air Quality – there have been 153 air quality tests done and 34 of those were specifically for mold.
• Why so expensive – The cost to build a new school would be about $300 per square foot. The refurbishing of the existing Peck Place School averages $32 per square foot.
• Why not put jobs out for bid – Selectman Mitch Goldblatt said in no uncertain terms that he did not feel it was fair that one general contractor who helped the school out when it was in peril, is getting the lions share of the work. He insisted that some of the work, such as painting, should be bid out to try to find a lower cost.
Zeoli said The BOE acknowledged there are things, like cabinetry, that can be bid out, but the process has to move forward in a continuous flow so it will be done in time.
After much discussion, Selectman John Carangelo said these are extenuating circumstances so he had to disagree with Goldblatt, and that if the BOE could bid out for some work, that would be good.
Selectman Ken Lenz said he didn’t want to delay school because they put jobs out to bid to save 5% on the cost (ballpark figure).
•Timeline – Selectman Ralph Okenquist said he would like to see a specific timeline showing a schedule of all the work, including overlaps in certain projects, not to exceed the total recommended cost. He said there are only 4 months and 3 weeks left before the students would need to return to the school and if there is no schedule, they would be looking at problems.
• Difference in the two Phases —
Phase 1 is the area affected by the water — asbestos abatement has been done.
Phase 2 is all the other rooms, store rooms, etc.
• Lighting — There is an estimated $20,000 difference between getting new lights and revamping the rooms. The UI offers incentives and these could possibly save the town up to 50% on costs.
• Penalties — Carangelo said there should be some sort of clause included in the contract paperwork finning the vendors if the work is not completed on time.
The BOS voted to recommend the projects to the BOF so work on Peck Place can commence with the exception of cabinetry and univentilators, which will go out to bid.
Tonight at 7:30 p.m., the BOF meets at Town Hall.
The Board will review and decide if they will approve it.
If they do, the money would come out of general fund so the BOE can move forward with the work.
Then the BOF can decide the wisest way to fund the project (bonding, etc.)