Search for track project manager on hold

Confusion over bid process forces school committee to re-advertise position.

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The high school track project hit a snag while the facilities subcommittee continues its search for an owner's project manager. - Stacey Rupolo

The hunt for an owner’s project manager (OPM) for the new high school track project came to a halt with a lot of screeching on Monday night, after the Martha’s Vineyard High School facilities subcommittee learned that asked-for search protocols had not been carried out by the superintendent’s office.

The subcommittee interviewed four candidates last week and met prior to the full MVRHS committee meeting Monday night to select a candidate to propose for approval by the full committee, believing that two-week public notice protocols would have been satisfied.

However, since the project manager’s position had not been advertised for two weeks or listed in the state Civil Register, those steps will have to be taken now, creating a two-week delay in naming an owner’s project manager.

Subcommittee chairman Jeffrey “Skip” Manter was angry. “I am frustrated and upset. We’re going back to advertising [the owner’s project manager], and that sets us back. People got this wrong,” he said.

When Superintendent Matt D’Andrea attempted to interject while Manter was unbundling the issue, Manter interrupted, saying, “They work for you, you work for us.”

Manter was willing to fall on his own sword as chairman. “I let this committee and this project down. I did not do my job,” he said. No one else in the silent room was moved to comment.

It is still unclear whether advertising the project was required by law, since the $25,000 project manager’s job is less than the state-mandated $50,000 threshold requiring projects to be advertised. Manter got head nods from several subcommittee members that the public notice and advertising protocols had been requested.

Amy Tierney, business administrator and procurement officer for the superintendent’s office and the lead on the owner’s project manager candidate selection and the process, said, “It’s been confusing. We brought in OPM-ish candidates, many of which are capable of doing other parts of the project, like engineering and feasibility studies, in addition to the OPM job. Feasibility studies don’t require the protocols,” she said, adding, “It was always my understanding that the OPM would do the feasibility study first.”

“It was never my impression that we needed to advertise and list on the Central Register [a state list of construction-related jobs out for bid]. We’ll do that, advertise the OPM bid, and write a scope-of-services document,” Tierney told The Times on Tuesday. While several candidates were asked during their interviews two weeks ago whether they had interest in other pieces of the project, the focus of the interviews centered on the owner’s project manager job.

Subcommittee member Bob Lionette, who asked several candidates about their interest in other aspects of the project last week, said this discussion was always about the OPM job.

Athletic director Mark McCarthy said, ”A month ago we said the next step was to hire an OPM, Now we’re talking about a feasibility study. I don’t know what the next step should be now.”

After the kerfuffle subsided, discussion moved to whether a feasibility study might be the next step. “The OPM’s job is to guide us through those steps, including the feasibility study,” Manter said. “The OPM cannot do both jobs” when charged with project oversight, he said.

Ultimately, the subcommittee decided to retry the process and to seek funding for a feasibility study from the MVRHS full committee, a move that was successful when the full committee voted to provide $43,000 in additional funds for the owner’s project manager to fund a feasibility study in the interest of moving the process ahead.