Building project may need consultant to stay on track

With the town hall campus construction project growing in scope due to the condition of the buildings within its purview, facilities director Chris Burney has suggested the town may wish to hire a consultant to keep it moving forward.

“We’re at a point where we need more outside help than has been asked for,” he said at a special meeting of the Police HQ/Town Hall Campus Building Committee on Aug. 2. In attendance were the committee co-chairs, David Waters and Patti Temple, and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice. “We need someone who can put in more hours than the committee has to push the design and the numbers.”

The project involves renovating the police station or building a new one and figuring out what to do with the town hall annex and town hall building, both of which are decaying. It also involves moving some town employees to work at Comstock Community Center in space that is yet to be completed. There is 3,000 square feet of unfinished space there. By the committee’s next meeting, Burney expects to have blocked diagrams for offices at Comstock and who would occupy them. That part of the project can be priced, he said. The diagrams are being done by the architectural firm Quisenberry Arcari Malick, LLC, in Farmington.

As one of the reasons for hiring a consultant, Burney cited concerns about construction costs, which he said are up an average of 4% for the country. The cost of steel, a main component of construction projects, is escalating due to recent tariffs.

Bonding up to $1,267,000 was approved at the May 2017 Annual Town Meeting for studies, surveys, architects, and the build-out of Comstock’s unfinished space to accommodate offices that move from town hall.

“When you step back and take a look — what’s the worst case — costs keep going up and access to money doesn’t,” he said.

Burney said he expects to have recommendations for a consultant by the committee’s next meeting on Aug. 21.

Information on the committee’s work may be found at WPDTownHallProject.org.

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