The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 25, 2009

SBC hears school renovation details, choices

Status report to town on October 5

While the focus of the Carlisle School Building Project is construction of a replacement for the Spalding Building, the project will also include renovations to other buildings on the campus. On September 17 the School Building Committee (SBC) held an extensive discussion of potential renovations, beginning with a presentation by Carlos DeSousa and Dominick Puniello of the engineering consulting firm Garcia, Galuska and DeSousa, who presented their observations of needed mechanical, technological, electrical and plumbing upgrades and repairs to the existing buildings. Arthur Duffy of the project’s architectural firm HMFH supplied further information.

Rerouting high voltage and communications lines

Electrical service for the present campus is a 1,200 amp 40-volt service. Demand is calculated at 260 kilowatts (315 amps), so DeSousa concluded that there is “probably enough capacity.” The switchboard, installed in the 1980s, is at half its life span and should not need replacement.

However, the high voltage lines need to be rerouted from their present location to avoid crossing under the potential new play area. DeSousa and Puniello recommended routing them around the Grant Building at a depth of 30 inches below ground. DeSousa said, “High voltage lines would be underground right out to the street.”

The engineers also suggested rerouting the communications lines (telephone, television, fire and police communications) to the second floor of the new building. All of this could be done at the same time. The committee’s concern is the cost, as they had not considered relocating utilities.

Synchronized clocks, new intercom

In the area of new technology, DeSousa and Puniello recommended installing a wireless master clock system, based on a Garmin GPS, since the present non-synchronized battery system often fails. They also offered a suggestion for a separate intercom system “so you would be able to call any room and use a two-way talk-back capability.”

Waterless lavatory fixtures

As part of a review of “green” technologies that might be incorporated in the building project, DeSousa and Puniello suggested replacing plumbing fixtures with low flow, and in some cases waterless technology. The SBC asked several questions about the recommended waterless urinals, with a focus on odor and maintenance. The consultants noted that the waterless fixtures use the same technology as that used on the space shuttle, and that low-flow technology has become much more efficient than it was a few years ago.

The engineers will calculate the savings to be realized from replacing all the fixtures as well as only the ones in need of replacement, and will provide a menu of low-water efficiency options for the committee to consider.

Air conditioning and ventilation upgrades

Ventilators need replacement on the Wilkins and Robbins buildings and are recommended for the Grant building. The engineers recommended upgrading and fully ducting the general classroom exhaust system to avoid looping exhaust back in. There is a need to look into afternoon overheating issues on the Grant-Robbins link, where classrooms face northwest. The proposed space for the multi-purpose room can get hot as well, and the noise of rooftop unit ventilators on the gym should be acoustically separated, with measures taken to soften that sound.

In the new addition, Puniello said, “our proposed design of displacement ventilation of conditioned air at 68 degrees year round, introduced at floor level, pushes air up. We are confident that that should be sufficient [for comfort] 95% of the time.”

He went on to recommend replacing rooftop HVAC units on the Corey building and installing a new automatic temperature control system with a single point to monitor control, hooking all the systems to it.

Heating and insulation

Mechanical engineering concerns included reviewing the sizing of the heating plant and testing impacts on heat as well as recommendations to reduce thermal loss. “Circulation and pumping issues will need review as we do the schematic design,” Puniello said. He recommended bringing the hot water pipes overhead within the building and providing a loop in the Corey building to provide supplementary heating. He will price out these options, measuring for energy efficiency and the thermal improvement of the envelope.


In the area of roofing, the committee discussed the possible value of replicating the Wilkins and Robbins sloped roofs, changing the material and color of roof membranes to raise or reduce heat absorption, using various metal roof materials and the value of high-end asphalt shingle. HMFH determined that the committee is more concerned with efficiency than aesthetics with regard to roofing materials and design, and will do a 40-year return-on-investment calculation on materials to determine “the best bang for the buck.”

Auditorium renovations

Corey Auditorium’s audiovisual capabilities were also discussed. The speakers, projector and sound system are relatively new, but the lighting board, dimmers and stage lighting system will need upgrading. The next phase of the audio system, said David Flannery, should be linked with the dining room and gym and a mixer for microphones should be installed to accommodate Town Meeting needs.

Committee Member Don Rober, suggested that some equipment needs to be reconfigured. “Presently, we have cordless ‘mics’ on stands. The control booth up top is not functional because it is glassed in and you can’t hear anything from inside it. The big follow spots [lights] do not fit up in the loft and are on the ramps where people walk onto stage, which is dangerous. Nothing is usable that we actually have. For example, the seventh grade play borrows sound and light boards. There is no TV or internet access.”

Owner’s Project Manager Sean Fennell commented that, “the budget seems a little light there. A dimmer system alone will cost $50,000. We will need to prioritize a list for this area.”

Fire protection and security

In the area of fire protection, they noted that the current 15,000 gallon tank must be updated to 30,000 gallons to come up to Section 7 of the new building code, and that a new high-suction fire pump will be needed. The committee informed the engineers that to enlarge the tank may require blasting through ledge.

The engineers reported that the school’s emergency lighting is compliant with code and that the fire alarm system is a very good one. The network display unit in the administration building, they said, is obsolete and needs to be replaced; however they would keep all the other lines tied in, “a simple fix.” The smoke detectors are still fine. Lighting and power can remain as they are now with “maybe a few computer outlets.” There are some distribution panels from 1960s in some buildings, “which you may consider replacing.”

The security system is now on a per-building basis; the engineers suggested a single-unit-access control system, wired to avoid having to change batteries. There are currently two locations in budget that would have video capability and buzz-in access.

The school may, the engineers said, want to consider a lightning protection system. This is not a code requirement, but might be wise because of the school’s location on top of a hill. The engineers made preliminary recommendations for systems, but will provide a menu of choices.

Emergency power

David Flannery added to the engineers’ presentation the information that the town is interested in having a facility that could be used as a shelter. From the school’s perspective, he said, the “essential functions that need to be maintained are water, heat and minimal lighting during power failure.” Flannery said townspeople are interested in this issue, so information on power generators should be available from the engineers. There is $150,000 in the budget for a generator as a separate item, as opposed to being an item on the repair/upgrade list.

HMFH’s Arthur Duffy brought up the issue of insulating the exterior walls of the Wilkins building. “We need to do energy modeling and calculations to determine if there will be energy savings for the insulation of exterior walls, especially including the effect of window walls.” Replacing windows may be a better payback than insulating walls. A hazardous materials investigation will test the windows as well for toxics in the glazing compounds.

Outdoor play areas

Kelly Guarino asked as a private citizen that the committee pay very close attention to the playground. “It is ironic,” she said, “that in a town where there is so much conservation land, our kids play on an asphalt plaza. The castle is often not open because of lack of supervision and safety. This situation should be corrected.” She also asked the committee to create a single parking lot to replace the big one and the small one near the Robbins building. She noted that when she lived on Church Street, she had the opportunity to look at traffic flow, and believes that this is an important issue to address. The committee replied there has not yet been a lot of discussion about the playground, but “we will have to address that.”

Project contracts

The SBC approved the survey and HazMat contracts, which Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie will take to the next Selectmen’s meeting for their signature. Other reports included the news that the consultant reviewed the well-test survey with David Flannery, who noted the need to evaluate additional demands on the 1969 well, which is 400- feet deep. This, along with the geo-tech package, still needs to be addressed with the engineer.

Other issues

Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle dropped off to the MSBA a letter from HMFH summarizing the status of the layout proposal and asking for input on the multipurpose room. HMFH is optimistic that the project can be on the agenda for the MSBA’s November meeting. Town Finance Director Larry Barton emphasized that, “We need to move on this thing by early March in order to be ready for the May Town Meeting.”

Finally, the committee considered a presentation of preliminary information to the October 5 Town Meeting and scheduled a meeting for October 1 to plan this public update.

Retiring Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie bade farewell to the committee, saying fervently, “I wish you so much luck with this. I mean it. I’ll have to come back and see what you did.” ∆

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