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Design, Engineering Teams For Sandy Hook School Ready To Begin

Newtown’s Public Building and Site Commission (PBSC) introduced the design and engineering teams that will oversee the pending remediation and demolition of the existing Sandy Hook School, as well as coordinating the new school building project as it rolls out in the coming months. The panel also heard brief reports from project managers Aaron Krueger of Consigli Construction and Julia McFadden of Svigals + Partners.

Svigals + Partners has been chosen as the architect/engineers for the project, while Consigli will manage the construction. Company principle Barry Svigals and Jay Brotman were also on hand at the meeting, along with Mike Walker of Consigli.

The company representatives said they had been in Newtown most of the day, first conducting a detailed site visit at the school, and then touring Newtown Municipal Center meeting various town officials who will be working closely with the two teams as the pending project launch date nears.

Officials on the PBSC previously explained they want to have all the personnel and plans in place to immediately begin remediation and demolition within days of a scheduled October 5 referendum. That binding vote will ask local voters to endorse or reject a state grant of up to $50 million to cover all costs related to replacing the half-century-old school — the scene of the 12/14 tragedy.

PBSC Chairman Bob Mitchell reiterated Tuesday that time is of the essence because of Newtown’s commitment to have local students out of Monroe’s Chalk Hill facility by the fall of 2015. Chalk Hill has been serving as a temporary Sandy Hook School since January.

Mr Krueger began his presentation telling the commissioners that environmental documentation on the site has been completed and submitted to the state for review before awarding a state remediation vendor the contract to complete that phase of the work. He said the Ellington environmental firm Bestech is poised to handle that work once and if the October 5 referendum passes.

“We’re targeting sign-off on that demolition package by October 1,” Mr Krueger said.

Anticipating the vote will pass, officials could then seek state approval for a quick turnaround demolition bidding process in as little as seven to 14 days, with plans to have the chosen demolition firm on site around October 21.

Mr Mitchell said that the coordination between the remediation and demolition teams will be somewhat unique, because there are areas of the building that will require some partial demolition to occur before remediation crews can complete their job.

Mr Krueger said at the same time, crews using information from PTA members and ground penetrating radar will commence their search for various time capsules buried on school grounds over the years.

Turning to the demolition process, Mt Krueger assured the commissioners that strict contractual guidelines will be established with vendors and personnel to assure no by-products of that process leave the site in any recognizable form. All of the masonry, glass, even the structural steel will be crushed and processed down to miniscule pieces before leaving the site.

“We don’t want to see anything showing up on eBay,” Mr Mitchell asserted. If deemed necessary, background checks might be required on the vendor’s workforce, and every person on site will be required to have specific identification cards to ensure complete security.

“Contractors must sign off on [the policy] about taking things, including photos,” Mr Krueger said. “There will be a zero tolerance policy in effect.”

The site perimeter will be fully fenced and masked with screening, and a 24-hour guard will be stationed on site, Mr Krueger added. His expectation is that the entire building will be gone by about December 6, although there may still be existing debris to process after that date.

Mr Mitchell said the area of the school where the shooting happened has also been surveyed and marked on plans to be sure that no construction equipment or temporary facilities are ever stationed in that vicinity.

Ms McFadden said she met with state officials on September 20 to learn how they will be working with her team on a hybrid process of approving document reviews for the abatement, demolition, the site package, the building package and the playground construction. She said there may be additional reviews required of the foundation and/or steel packages as well.

Ms McFadden also reviewed preliminary ideas about how to integrate staff and community member input on the process, so that the town will end up with a school that truly reflects the character of the community. She expects that input process to occur between mid-October and early December.

The team will also be working to convert required educational specifications into the designs so the public can see the development from its inception. Ms McFadden said it is extremely important for the public to feel their voices are being heard regarding the design and construction of the new school.

She said the teams also want to bring older students in on “visioning” the project, engaging some in a “Kids Build” program that will help educate and develop aspiring architects.

Mr Mitchell said plans are in place to construct the temporary access road to the site as soon as possible to minimize traffic on Dickinson Drive. He said there are plans to try and integrate the original Sandy Hook School building, closed in 1928 and currently occupied by Apex Glass, as a working component of the new school project.

The commission chairman wrapped up the presentation reminding the teams that the state is looking at the hybrid way the Sandy Hook project will occur as a model to help the state improve the way school projects occur throughout Connecticut in the future.

“Then state will be looking to us to help make their school construction processes more efficient in the future,” he said.

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