The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 2, 2010

Highland Committee approves architect contract

Goal: stabilization to be completed by fall

At last Thursday evening’s meeting, the Highland Building Committee discussed and approved the contract negotiated by Town Administrator Tim Goddard with the architectural firm of Menders, Torrey and Spencer (MTS) to design the stabilization of the Highland Building and cover the inspection of regulated materials.

The contract fee of $50,000 specifies MTS’s inspection of the condition of the building, preparation of a needs assessment document, documentation of regulated materials that may be present in the building (such as lead paint) and construction documents that will guide the project through the bidding process for repairs necessary for stabilization. This contract represents the first phase of the project for which the committee won $445,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Act funds last year.

MTS is scheduled to have a needs assessment ready by April 1. This will include everything the firm can find that needs repair on the building. The next important date is the Special Town Meeting, April 13, to determine the fate of the proposed Carlisle School Building project. The town’s decision there will resolve whether the committee will be able to hook a fire protection system for the Highland Building into the cistern planned for the new school, or whether they will have to include in the stabilization plan the building of a cistern specifically for the Highland Building.

In any case, the School Building Committee will make available to the Highland Building Committee its computer-aided design (CAD) survey, so that the committee may see what is above and below ground within a 100-foot perimeter of the building. When the committee has these pieces of information, they can begin planning the design for stabilization with MTS, including how available funds can be dispersed in the project, and the architectural firm can produce construction documents for use in bidding out the project.

The plan is to have the project out to bid in early June with a construction contract awarded in early July and a completion date before school starts again in September.

Stabilization repairs mostly exterior

Ongoing discussion revolved around how to define the difference between stabilization and restoration. The committee believes that this stabilization will have to last at least five, and perhaps as many as ten years, while the town decides upon uses for the structure and ways to pay for its full restoration and systems modernization. There was general agreement that stabilization applies mainly to the exterior of the building, essentially weatherproofing and securing it, and not to any rehabilitation of the interior.

Building systems, such as plumbing, electrical upgrades, and HVAC would not come into the scope of the stabilization project unless temporary systems are necessary to maintain stabilization. Updated mechanical and American Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant systems would be installed when the building’s use is determined and the town votes to restore and upgrade the building accordingly. However, the currently available CPA funds will have to cover basic utility costs for existing electrics in the building until it is in full use, as it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the School Committee.

Depending upon what MTS discovers while inspecting the building’s condition, however, stabilization could mean more than merely a “patch job” and could require some rebuilding. Considerations include how to preserve a wooden clapboard building and its exterior architectural features against the elements without engaging in a full restoration of them.

In the meantime, the committee will launch a plan to determine future use(s) of the building once the first phase is well underway. The committee agreed to converse with incoming Carlisle School Superintendent Joyce Mehaffey and the School Committee to determine finally whether or not the school wishes to use all or any part of the building in its new plan or in the future. School Building Committee Chair Lee Storrs, who was present at this meeting, noted that the proposed school building plan does not include the Highland Building. Other items in the plan include discussions with various town organizations and individuals and a survey to see how the town would like to see the building utilized. ∆

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