The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 2, 2010

Highland project rebid pushed up to July

This sketch shows a possible interior confi guration of the Highland Building. A handicapped-accessible entrance is drawn on the south side, leading to an elevator accessing the lobbies on each of the three fl oors. Activity/program space includes two large rooms of roughly 1,300 sq. ft. each on the fi rst and second fl oor, and one 600 sq. ft. room in the basement. The rear metal fi re escape is replaced with an enclosed stairwell. (Courtesy Highland Committee)

The Highland Building Committee was unanimous in its decision on June 28 to push re-bidding for the stabilization project to this summer, rather than holding off until next winter. Committee member Bob Stone asserted, “To defer the project until next year is a mistake.” Nathan Brown added, “We also want to be able to move on and address the future use of the building.”

This will mean that the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be redrafted and published in July, with bid completion in August for a possible start in the fall.

Several issues need to be resolved in order to accommodate this new calendar. First, the committee will examine the ramifications of running a construction project during the school year. Logistics changes, including traffic flow and parking, the amount of space available for the fenced-off construction materials, noise, possible time restrictions in the work day, the impact of the beginning of the school construction project (utility installation) and safety, including being sure that all contractors are CORI qualified, are among the concerns the committee plans to address in concert with Fire Chief David Flannery and school authorities.

Because the School Committee does not meet in the summer, the Highland Committee plans to meet with Flannery, School Building Committee Chair Lee Storrs and School Superintendent Joyce Mehaffey to establish logistics and workable criteria for bid documents early in July, and be able to go to the School Committee’s first September meeting with their agreement and recommendations.

Highland Committee Chair Peter Scavongelli asked the group to “revisit the criteria that caused our RFP not to get bids.” Only one bid was submitted to the town following the first RFP in late June.

The committee agreed with Menders, Torrey and Spencer (MTS), the architects of the project, that the self-imposed accelerated time frame (12 weeks, beginning in July with a finish by September 7) may have deterred bidders, and decided to amend the RFP to describe the project as a 20-week job.

The committee also thought that stringent qualification restrictions tacked on to those required by the Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) may have deterred bidders. Although DCAM qualifications provide a filter to ensure that bidders are qualified to work on a project such as the Highland Building, the Highland stabilization proposal also required that “all work performed shall meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Buildings,” and that contractors must have worked on at least three projects listed on the National Historic Register. The Highland Building itself is not listed on the National Historic Register.

The committee wishes to omit the National Historic Register requirement, but add the qualification that the contractor’s DCAM certification should include approval in DCAM’s category of Historic Building Restoration to take care of concerns about working on a building like the Highland. The committee has sent an email to the architects at MTS asking for their input and for the amendments to the RFP. MTS has agreed that the project should be re-bid as soon as possible and will redraft the RFP.

In addition, MTS will be overseeing the construction project when it is finally contracted. They have been allotted $12,000 for construction administration, so there will be no Owner’s Project Manager assigned to the job. The design portion of their charge will be completed when they provide color renderings of the exterior of the building and a schematic of a possible inside plan.

A lengthy discussion of the three schematic drawings MTS has drafted for the committee’s consideration did not end in unanimous agreement except to reject Schematic A (see Mosquito, May 14), which changed the main entrance to the back of the building with a large staircase/elevator addition. Most committee members thought that a hybrid of Schematics B and C would be workable and Stone emailed sketches of changes to MTS (see drawing above).

However, committee members Nathan Brown and Bob Hilton expressed concern over what “historic features” might be lost, including the front staircases and questioned whether the building should be registered with the National Historic Register to see whether that would allow better preservation of existing features. To use the building as a public facility, the front staircases would have to be rebuilt in order to bring them into compliance with current building codes. Hilton and Brown will speak with MTS to let them know of their concerns and discuss ways to preserve as much as possible of the historic features of the interior of the building.

The present stabilization project deals only with the building’s exterior and temporary heating. Once the committee has agreed upon a schematic design for the interior produced by MTS, it will be used to publicize the potential of the building to possible users and will complete the design portion of the stabilization project. A final design for the interior would be completed with the new users and would be part of a second project for building restoration. ∆

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