Police Headquarters Gets Green Light Following Joint BOS, PBSC Meeting
The construction phase for Newtown’s new Police Headquarters could commence in as little as a week after a joint meeting between the Public Building and Site Commission (PBSC) and Board of Selectmen November 6. During that meeting, Selectmen accepted a Guaranteed Maximum Price or GMP for the project, which ended up coming in measurably under budget.
Because of differences in how current and future expenses related to the project were being accounted for between the Town Finance Manager’s office and the PBSC, the motion to accept the GMP was carried with a caveat related to the projected surplus, however.
That caveat will ensure the project proceeds maintaining at least an eight percent contingency and would allow for additional surplus funds to be applied to pay for a top-priority alternate — completing a secondary entrance and exit driveway that would connect the rear of the new South Main Street facility to the adjacent Ethan Allen Road.
PBSC Chairman Robert Mitchell told The Newtown Bee just before the 6:30 pm joint meeting with selectmen that the proposed budget for construction is about 10.6 million, and after three aspects of the construction phase were recently re-bid, the anticipated construction budget will come in at $10.4 million.
He said the total project cost includes elements like legal and advertising expenses, along with moving and equipment costs for things like furniture and fixtures.
The available and authorized project budget is $13.2 million, and the anticipated project cost will be $13,086,000 — $113,000 under budget, Mr Mitchell said. He added that the project additionally has between $600-700,000 in contingency built into the budget, “so if something happens, we won’t have to go back to the town.”
Mr Mitchell said original bids for the facility’s glass work, exterior sheathing, and some landscape construction were either inadequate or came in too high, so a few aspects of the project involving those components were tweaked by the architect and/or the construction manager and were put out for a new round of bidding.
“For example, the original design specified a certain type of wall material that was incredibly expensive, so we looked at a different material,” Mr Mitchell said. “Visually you won’t see any difference in the [finished building]. So when the three re-bids came in, they were well below where we thought they would be, so we ended up with some cushion.”
He said in discussion with Police Chief James Viadero, the PBSC prioritized using some of that savings to complete the secondary exit road.
“We always hoped to include a secondary way to get in and out of the facility,” Mr Mitchell said.
With the acceptance of the GMP by the selectmen and council, Mr Mitchell said construction managers could begin mobilizing onsite within about a week, and a ceremonial groundbreaking event could be scheduled.
Differences between the PBSC and finance office budget projections surfaced during the joint meeting as Consigli Project Management Team leader Victor Ciancetta reviewed project cost details.
Crunching The Numbers
Selectman Jeff Capeci suggested the project team, which included Consigli staffers and PBSC members, take a break and confer with Town Finance Director Robert Tait about the budget, contingency, and surplus specifics while the board handled another matter.
Mr Tait showed the team where he had funds allocated and spent, and it was determined overall project cost projections were consistent across the board. Differences were noted, however, between where the finance office applied budget funds to current and past project expenses, and where Mr Mitchell said in several cases, those expenses were accounted for in future projected spending.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said he was confident the approved budget allocation contained enough funds to complete the project.
“We know the GMP and contingency are okay — we’re on budget,” Mr Rosenthal said following the meeting. “We just didn’t want to apply budget funds or surplus money to the driveway alternate without assuring we would be carrying an eight percent contingency. If we can complete the approved project and the driveway alternate while maintaining that contingency, that’s great. But if we were unable to carry that contingency, that alternate [driveway installation] would have had to wait for another day.”