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Value Engineering Keeping PD Project On Track, In Budget



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Newtown’s Public Building & Site Commission (PBSC), working with the design team and construction manager for the new police headquarters, have value engineered a comfortable buffer to help ensure the project is completed at or under budget.

PBSC Chairman Robert Mitchell told The Newtown Bee some previously anticipated site development expenses have been averted as well, and when cobbled with other cost modifications, add up to a little more than $1.1 million.

“We’re in a position now where everything checks out,” Mr Rosenthal said. “We’ve met with police management to be sure all their programming fits, and the value engineering with the possibility of adding certain things back in later if we have room gave Public Building & Site the confidence to authorize moving the project to (Phase One) design phase.”

Mr Mitchell and First Selectman Dan Rosenthal were quick to clarify that these measures do not add up to a reduction in the project budget at this early stage of the work — dubbed “Phase Zero” — but on paper, create a spending plan that will be easier to keep on track.

While every “need-to-have,” is now included in the architect’s and CM’s project plan for the facility, a couple of options that were bumped to a secondary priority list might be able to be considered further into the building process, the first selectman said. One involves extending a planned new driveway at the site all the way to Ethan Allen Road.

“This would provide personnel, visitors, and officers an alternate way to get vehicles in or out in the rare event the main entrance is somehow blocked, like by an accident or emergency construction or something like that,” Mr Mitchell said.

“The chief is satisfied that the site will have good traffic flow, even without a second entrance,” Mr Rosenthal said. “But he’d like to see that happen, if it can be done.”

Police Chief James Viadero said that the value engineering and separating desired add-ons to a secondary priority list is “part of the process that every project goes through as it proceeds.”

“Our main objective is to work within the budget that the taxpayers approved,” the chief added. “We are very happy with the progress of the project. The design firm, GC, Police Department and the Building & Site Commissioners have been working seamlessly — very good communication [is ongoing] and decisions are being made with input from all involved.”

‘Good Feeling’

Mr Mitchell said this level of “good feeling” involving a municipal project team is similar to what he saw during the Sandy Hook School rebuild. And it is no wonder; the police station is employing the same project management firm, Consigli Construction Company.

“We have this recent history with Consigli as the firm that built Sandy Hook School, which by all accounts was done well, on time, and under budget,” First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said after his board unanimously endorsed the firm. “In addition, having worked so closely with them on that much bigger project, the ‘knowns’ about Consigli far outweigh the unknowns.”

Regarding the police project, Mr Rosenthal said the plan is to bid all options, including those on the secondary list, or as Mr Mitchell labeled them, “add alternates.”

He and the PBSC also supported authorizing an “early demolition package” that will give everyone involved even further insight about any structural or infrastructure unknowns lurking behind and within the structure’s walls.

“By identifying any elements through the early demo early on, before the project is substantially underway, will eliminate potential delays and help keep the project on schedule,” the first selectman said.

The new headquarters is being developed at the existing site of a 1980s-era office building for Taunton Press, at 191 South Main Street. The parcel, which also contains a modest residential home, abuts Ethan Allen Road, adjacent to town property where the former landfill and transfer station is located.

Mr Rosenthal said at this early stage, he is planning a formal groundbreaking “sometime in October.”

He said as any unknowns become known regarding need-to-have aspects, ongoing consideration will be spent figuring out how to move the most important and cost effective secondary priorities back into the plan.

On April 23, the PBSC unanimously approved the station’s full schematic design, including preliminary plans, a floor plan, sight elevations, and the value management items.

The most significant visual aspect of the project — what was to be a high ceiling foyer entry — had to be scrapped when it was determined the entire roof line had to undergo a sealing process to make it water tight to the exterior facade. The accompanying savings on that single design change fortified the overall cost parameter by a significant margin, Mr Mitchell said.

At the same time, another cost saving option, downsizing the sally port prisoner entrance from two bays to one, was not bumped to the secondary list.

“It was a big number, but we felt [the reduction] did not align functionally with the basic needs of the department,” he said, “so we left that in.”

The PBSC chairman said preliminary borings helped identify rock ledges along the side and rear of the property that helped reduce costs further. Mr Mitchell said knowing the ledge helped define exactly where the station’s driveway could go without having to remove solid ledge rock “saved probably a quarter million.”

“We just moved the driveway a little closer to the building, and voilà, no ledge rock,” he said.

Savings Add Up

He said the building’s original fire mains were deemed in good shape, so replacement materials and labor were removed from the budget, saving $10,000. The aforementioned waterproofing itself is coming in less expensive, and as Mr Mitchell explained, “will incorporate fabricated metal panels that will be quicker and easier [to install], and will provide us with an even more substantially waterproof exterior.”

Along with already helping conserve budget dollars by performing substantial landscape work and tree removal, Town Public Works crews will continue to apply their skills and equipment wherever possible as construction commences, Mr Mitchell said.

“They could install parking lots, put in curbing, things we might otherwise have to pay a more expensive contractor for,” he added.

The building’s septic system is still in good shape, and while the tank had to be replaced, Mr Mitchell said that aspect of the overall anticipated expense also contributes to the budget buffer.

Finally, the residential structure on the property, if preserved in the final planning, could be resold, adding as much or more than $200,000 to the revenue side of the spreadsheet.

“We cut out $876,000 in value management items,” Mr Mitchell said. “So the construction cost is dropped to a little over $10 million, and we have a seven percent contingency, so the raw cost is $11.3 million. Add in soft and equipment costs, and you get an adjusted project cost of $13.2 million.”

With that number identified, all parties involved are pleased the project is looking so well-managed so early in the process.

“The main questions are, do we have a functional building that meets the needs of both the police and emergency communications personnel and is within budget,” Mr Rosenthal said. “The answer is yes.”

A modified exterior design for the new police headquarters, initiated because of a sealing process that needs to be applied along the roofline, had the collateral benefit of helping reduce the project’s projected cost. A series of other “value engineering” options and a slight modification to the driveway location has created more than a $1 million buffer that officials say will help ensure the new facility construction stays within budget. —rendering courtesy Newtown PBSC
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