According to Newtown officials close to the project, many of Connecticut’s larger communities have personnel in-house who can handle the necessary preparation for a major construction job like the one ramping up for the new Sandy Hook School.
But with Newtown’s appointed and volunteer Public Building & Site Commission (PBSC) serving as the town’s building committee for the duration of the school’s rebuild, its Chairman Robert Mitchell said this week that his group requires professional support to administer the preliminary phases.
“The Public Building and Site Commission doesn’t have the capital or resources to handle this level of administration,” Mr Mitchell said.
So following action in April by the Board of Education to earmark $65,000 from a special Sandy Hook revenue account to acquire the professional services required to support the PBSC, the decision was made to hire Hartford-based Diversified Project Management (DPM) for the job.
[See the preconstruction services proposal here.]
Since DPM’s work is all related to preconstruction preparation, the PBSC and the town were not required to solicit bids for those services.
“DPM was hired through a qualifications-based process,” Mr Mitchell said. “They were chosen because of their size, experience, and their long history of working on public projects throughout Connecticut. And they can move fast.”
Mr Mitchell said in order to complete the unusual design-build school construction project, which phases aspects of the project versus handling them in a more linear and time-consuming way, he and other officials are hoping to meet the goal of bringing Sandy Hook students and staff home to Newtown as early as January 2016.
“The phased nature of this project could see demolition occurring as early as September, structural steel going up in October, with site utility work starting next February and March,” he said.
And he said the company comes to Newtown at a bargain rate.
“Their fee is normally about $1 million on a $50 million project like this, and we negotiated their services for something like $40,000,” he added.
Assistant Town Attorney Monte Frank said he advised the town to have “no qualms” about seeking preconstruction services on a qualifications-based system, versus competitive bidding.
“And neither state nor town ordinances required bids for their services,” Mr Frank said. “DPM is the town’s ‘owner’s representative,’ and our charter doesn’t require them to bid for the work.”
Mr Frank said DPM is already moving quickly through their part of the preconstruction process, putting out requests for proposals for construction manager, landscape architecture, (building) architect, and professional engineer.
Mr Mitchell said he expects the first bids to go out for demolition services and site preparation work, and DPM as part of its work, will help the building commission pick and qualify companies being sought to propose architect and engineering services.
“Once a construction manager puts out bids for the construction phase of the project, that advisor will work with the project team from day one compiling estimates and constructability reviews,” Mr Mitchell said. “And once the schematics are all done, we put out a maximum price and work with all the contractors to get the school built.”