The key players with the Comstock Building Commission met with the Board of Selectmen last Monday evening, elaborating on the Comstock Community Center Renovation plans including construction details and costs.
The major goals of the project, as explained by Rusty Malik, principal with Quisenberry Arcari Architects, who serves as project manager on the renovation, are to bring the building up to code and improve the appearance of the building.
Projecting estimated costs for the total project as planned at $9.9 million, Ty Tregallas with Turner Construction told the BoS, “This is the number you can take to the voters.”
Malik explained about the energy efficient systems planned for the building that will help save energy and reduce operating costs, and there will be “insulated, well-ventilated spaces throughout the building.” The systems that are being designed will meet ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards.
“Requirements to ventilate have changed drastically in the last 10-15 years. With the new standards, it’s 4-to-5-fold the amount of air that is considered just 5 or 10 years ago that is now required to come through the space to maintain the air quality within all the spaces of the building.”
The original building was built in 1955, and Malik noted that “the majority of this building, almost 80 percent is from 1957 or earlier. We’re dealing with the original component of the building so that tells us how much work we have to do.”
He also said that there was a continued upward trend of people who use and visit the building, being used more and more as time goes on, and programs are increasing, so the renovation is very timely.”
Discussing the extent of demolition that will have to take place, Malik said, “When it’s all said and done very little will be left–just basically the building’s skeleton.” Given that a new sprinkler system and new HVAC system need to be installed, there’s significant work to be done, he explained.
One of the areas he said that will be targeted for improvement will be accessibility. Right now there is no curb cut for wheelchair access near the senior center main entrance; the renovation will make the entire front curb accessible to anyone. Also, lighting will be improved, along walkways and through the parking area. “It will be better for safety,” Malik said. “We’re very well aware that we don’t want to make too much of a glow.”
One thing Malik highlighted was that showers were going to be added to the main men’s and women’s bathrooms. This was significant not only for summer camp and gym users, but also because Comstock is designated as an emergency facility for the town.
In addition, the new design addresses improvements in building security as well as wired and wireless technology.
Tregallas from Turner Construction then presented on cost estimates, noting that as the project is a renovation, the numbers “are quite a bit less than new construction. Frankly, this is at the lower end of the spectrum [as compared to] if this were a school and we were renovating as new. We’re well under replacing the building as new.”
First selectman Bill Brennan called this projected, as budgeted, “one of the most cost-efficient projects that we’ve come up with in this town. We’ve taken a building that’s basically over 50 years old, very little has been done, and what we’re trying to do as cost-efficiently as possible is create a community center we can be proud of.”
Selectman Hal Clark asked Tregallas to confirm whether the building, once renovated, will last the town at least another 20 years; Tregallas said it would. Malik added that the materials being used are “built to last and require very little maintenance.”
Clark also asked whether or not people would see the building as ‘new’ once the renovation is completed; Tregallas also answered yes to this question as well, adding, “Right from the get go, the window replacement certainly gives it a different look.” Malik added that because the lobby will now be much more opened up, with light coming in from new windows the north side as well, “it will look dramatically different.”
Added Brennan, “This building will look like a brand new building when we get finished with it. The interiors will be something we will not be ashamed of. We can call this the Lazarus building, we’ve brought it back to life.”
Commenting on the populations that the building serves, Clark said, “I was surprised at just how many people use this building.”
The project is estimated to begin in February 2015.
Does the energy efficiency include the use of gas for heating?
I believe it does. But that was a separate bonded capital project from last year’s vote. It would be a boiler for natural gas.
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