Assistant chair of the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee Glen Hemmerle presented a status report on the Miller-Driscoll Building project to the Board of Selectmen at last night’s BoS meeting (Monday, April 18).

First he gave the selectmen what he called a “sense” of the financials.

The original bonding at the town meeting was for $50,022,000. Hemmerle told the BOS that once design documents were finished and actual bids were received, those numbers changed a bit. As of April 7, there is a $5.278 million budget variance (see blue column, in the budget report summary, below) and that the project is under budget by that amount.

April 7 budget report summary

He updated the selectmen on recent information regarding state reimbursement.

“The state, on April 4, submitted their request to the general assembly for funding for the reimbursement portion of school projects in CT–there are 28 school projects in the state of CT this year. Wilton is listed at the original budget of $50,022,00 and they are projecting that reimbursement could be as high as $11,074,871, which is significantly higher than we originally anticipated. That number is subject to significant change, when we get down to the end. If it does get close to that, you’ll see the net cost when it’s all said and done will be around $34 million,” Hemmerle said, acknowledging that the amount is “the outside number,” and the reimbursement amount will very likely decrease.

“It looks good, we’re in very good shape financially. There are no surprises. We’re pretty confident that the number will be significantly lower than $50 million,” he added.

Wilton is being reimbursed at a rate of 22-percent, which Hemmerle noted was the lowest rate of all 28 projects in CT.

Schedule Changes and Additional Hazmat Testing/Removal

Questions and concerns continue to be raised by numerous parents about the project’s hazmat abatement process, and how close it has been scheduled to when children return to the building—either over weekends or other periods when students are not in the building.

Hemmerle said the committee asked Turner Construction whether anything could be done to change the schedule and process to address those concerns. In addition, to address other concerns, the committee has decided to extend testing and PCB abatement to areas where construction has not been planned. (Until now, testing and abatement was scheduled only in areas where construction was planned.)

Additional costs for the testing and abatement will be covered by contingency funds; testing is approximately $25,000 and abatement costs is approximately $400,000. “We think that is very conservative, based on what we’ve found previously. It’s the right thing to do,” Hemmerle said.

As a result of the additional testing and removal, and according to Hemmerle, “as direct response to the questions that have been raised by the public,” the building committee and Turner have re-examined scheduling. Hemmerle said that a decision has been made to move all abatement work to the summer when school is closed and students and staff are not occupying the building.

“The bottom line is we will do all of our abatement when the school is closed and no one is there, and we will not reoccupy any of the space until we are certain that all the abatement is complete, all of the air quality testing is done and we are absolutely sure and positive that the space can be reoccupied as safe. We will not be coming back into the school the day after abatement has been done,” Hemmerle said.

As a result of Turner re-looking over scheduling, Hemmerle explained, the school will be ready for re-occupancy as of September 2017—actually more than three months faster than the original phasing plan proposed. The project will be completed when the 2017-18 school year begins. “There will not be a disruption during the 2017-2018 school year,” Hemmerle said.

Any costs associated will be accommodated by the current project budget, according to Hemmerle. “There will be no significant increases,” he added, noting that it will require a significant amount of work by Turner.

First selectman Lynne Vanderslice noted that there have been no issues to date with abatement work, and she clarified that the students have been safe up until now when re-entering the school following any abatement work that has been done to date.

“The change is not in response to any problem. We want to be responsive to the public and parents who have expressed concerns. It makes sense to try and do that,” Hemmerle said.