Building committee focused on upcoming deadlines

Consultants are preparing cost estimates for vote before submitting to MSBA.

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This schematic of Tisbury School is the latest iteration of the building's design after getting feedback from the public. Consultants stress it is still a preliminary design.

The Tisbury School Building Committee has agreed to have the project manager and architect work up two possible budgets that town leaders can choose from at a joint meeting with the school committee and board of selectmen next month.

At a meeting Monday, the board voted unanimously to have Richard Marks, the owner’s project manager and president of Daedalus Projects, work on those cost estimates along with architect Peter Turowski of T2 Architecture.

Mr. Marks and Mr. Turowski will work up numbers both with and without a contract manager at risk, which is more expensive but gives the town some say over whom it picks for the contractor, and allows an interview of the team before signing a contract. Through a general bid process, the town would be required to accept the lowest bidder and would get whatever subcontractors come along with that contractor without having any say, Mr. Marks said.

The cost-estimating process would be completed in time for a decision to be made at a meeting planned, but not yet scheduled, for Dec. 18, with an eye toward submitting the schematic design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on Dec. 22. The MSBA is reimbursing 41.26 percent of the reimbursable construction costs for the project, which is currently estimated at an overall price of $46 million.

Going with the construction management at-risk model makes it easier for the contractor to secure subcontractors for the project, Mr. Marks told the building committee. Large construction firms, like Suffolk Construction, are having success doing similar projects, he said. Other contractors also find it an attractive way to do business with municipalities, he said. “It widens the pool of contractors in general,” he said. “We really think it’s the right way to do the project. We can do it either way.”

Mr. Marks also produced a timeline for the project that includes a town meeting vote April 10, and a townwide vote April 24 to secure the town’s portion of the funds. If all goes according to his timeline, construction would begin a year from April and the school would be completed and ready for move in during February school vacation 2021.

“None of this ever changes,” he said, adding, “sarcasm doesn’t work well in meeting minutes.”

The daunting three-year schedule notwithstanding, the building committee has made progress in recent months toward a design, though one won’t be finalized until this spring. At a meeting last week, the committee received community feedback on the outside look of the school, and Mr. Turowski is in the process of making adjustments to meet the public’s input.

He presented drawings Monday that show a more muted color scheme. The drawings show a brick facade on the lower level and a less expensive material — concrete, shingle, or a manufactured clapboard — still to be determined for the third floor of the building, he said.

Mr. Turowski is attempting to incorporate a palladium window into the design, a takeaway from the existing school building that will be eventually torn down. Some building committee members liked it; others thought he was trying too hard to accommodate it.

“Really here we’re pasting on part of the existing school to win favor from the town,” Reade Milne, a building committee member, said. “I feel like that’s why we have the window in there.”

But assistant superintendent Richie Smith liked the way it featured the gabled-end of the building. “I’m blown away by the look of this. This is beautiful,” he said.

There was a suggestion to use the palladium window from the old school inside the new school as a design element.

“If we’re going to reuse it, I think we should reuse the window, not a window that looks like it,” Mr. Marks said.

“We want to be genuine,” Colleen McAndrews, the building committee chairman, said.

Board members showed some irritation with a town project called a wicks system, which is a vertical leaching field for the town’s wastewater treatment facility. There are two wicks on school property, and Mr. Turowski reported that the town’s consultant is asking for the building to be moved on the site plan to make way for testing wells. The request was to move the building a few feet to the north without any specifics, he said.

Some committee members asked that the DPW and its consultant be called in to provide those specifics.

Ms. Milne was more direct. “How come their information keeps changing?” she said. “It just seems a little bit unfair to continue to change our plan based on their nebulous setbacks.”

The school department has conceded several times, providing a buffer around the wicks for testing wells, but now the consultant is asking for a 50-foot radius.

“We’ve given you way more than your 10 feet you originally asked for, and we’re not going to move our school a few more feet so you get your 50 …,” Ms. Milne said. “We’ve made concessions, now you need to make concessions.”

The building committee meets again Dec. 11, and is working toward scheduling that joint meeting for Dec. 18.