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BOS Approves Permanent Memorial Construction Manager, Hawley School HVAC



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The Newtown Board of Selectmen (BOS) met virtually on the evening of August 3 and approved a number of motions, including the acceptance of open space donations, the construction manager for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial (SHPM), and the Hawley Elementary School HVAC project.

Land Use Agency Deputy Director of Planning Rob Sibley spoke to the selectmen about the half-dozen properties that were being offered to the town for donation.

“All the properties we’re going to be looking at tonight have gone through [the] Conservation Commission and received their endorsement associated with it,” Sibley explained.

Ultimately, the BOS accepted the open space donations for land labeled 35 Great Quarter Road, about a tenth of an acre; 97 Glen Road, a little more than half an acre; and 179 and 189 Great Quarter Road, 1.135 acres for both parcels donated together.

As for Lots 4 and 5 at 127 Walnut Tree Hill, totaling 10.93 acres, Selectmen Jeff Capeci and Selectmen Maureen Crick Owen brought up concerns for accepting the donation, as it is considered buildable land.

Sibley said the property was an “unusual” offering coming from the site’s developer, who has not built on the eight-lot subdivision which started its approval process for building by the town back in 2007.

The reason the property being offered to the town and not built upon by the developer comes down to finances, Sibley explained.

“After they were approved, the developer agreed to develop the rear lots with very large storm water systems on those two lots and a lot of grading and preparing for those lots, especially for their septic systems,” the land use official said. “Those became a burden for the resale, and so those properties have stayed in that state for the last decade, mostly for the cost associated with them.”

While bringing the donation to BOS attention is not an endorsement, Sibley said, “The reason the Conservation Commission endorsed this acceptance of the donation is for its proximity to other open space. It effectively doubles the amount of open space set aside and the Julia Wasserman property with the large conservation continues what the spirit of that area is, which is a protected area.”

The consensus of the BOS was to hold off on a decision about accepting the donation for another meeting. Capeci said he would like to view the property in person.

SHPM Construction Manager

When discussing the role of construction manager for the SHMP pre-construction work, First Selectmen Dan Rosenthal explained that the interview panel narrowing down the prospects included himself, Sibley, Public Building & Site Commission (PBSC) Chair Robert Mitchell, Newtown’s purchasing agent Rich Spreyer, landscape architect Tara Vincenta of Artemis, and the design firm SWA.

Rosenthal relayed to his fellow selectmen that the panel recommended going forward with Downes Construction for pre-construction work. The first selected noted that the PBSC had endorsed approving Downes Construction at its July 28 meeting.

The motion to recommend Downes Construction as the construction manager for pre-construction work at the SHPM and enter a contract with them was approved unanimously.

Hawley Elementary School

The Hawley Elementary School HVAC project, Rosenthal explained, has been in the Capital Improvement Plan, and last fall the CIP was split.

“There was concern that if the [legislative] council and Board of Finance approved a lump sum, once work started and actually did the design work, it was quite possibly discovered that the cost was much higher than people had anticipated. So they decided to break down and do the advance engineering and design to determine what the total construction cost would be,” Rosenthal said.

He recalled about $300,000 was on the CIP slated for referendum this past spring.

“Subsequently, the Board of [Education] decided to use their non-lapsing account to fund that, so the Board of Finance obliged,” Rosenthal said. “The funds that we went out and issued an RFQ [request for quotation] for were actually intended to be covered with money from the Board of Education’s non-lapsing account.

“The Board of Education did turn this project over to Public Building & Site,” he continued. “Public Building & Site is comfortable with Christopher Williams [Architect LLC]. The contract has been reviewed by the council. I just didn’t want to put my signature on it without bringing it to the Board of Selectmen.”

The motion to approve Christopher Williams Architect LLC for engineering and design of Hawley Elementary School HVAC was passed unanimously.

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