Wilton approves $785K for next phase of police HQ project

Photo of J.D. Freda

WILTON — The Board of Selectmen approved $785,000 Monday to move to the next phase of the new police headquarters project and extend the contract with vendor Tecton Architects.

“We contracted with Tecton to do the design studies and a lot of the preliminary design. They did an amazing job, and that contract was for $481,750,” Facilities Director Chris Burney told the selectmen Monday. “So now what we are looking for is approval to extend that contract.”

The good news, per Burney, is that all facets of the project are moving along as they should with lower contingency hits than anticipated.

The overall percentage of design fees and administration on the project have come in currently at just under 7.5 percent. Burney said they “start with numbers like 10 percent for design costs and 20 percent for contingencies” on projects like this that don’t have immediate known specifications on design or price.

Burney shared that those initial default estimates seemed to have been high, as contingency costs have come in considerably lower and a lot of the design work has already been done with the money allocated.

“So we’re no longer looking at unknowns, and unknowns scare people in construction,” Burney said.

He said Tecton and the town are certain about what the building will look like and there aren’t any more opportunities for changes. Burney said he and Police Chief John Lynch are pleased with the progress of the long-discussed police headquarters project.

Burney told the selectmen that the total project cost is “all locked” at $17 million — the price that was presented and overwhelmingly approved at an annual town meeting vote in April.

“That is construction, design, extras, anything that has to go into legal fees, we’re locked at $17 million,” Burney said. “We have all made a commitment that we will not go above $17 million.”

Conditions and verbiage of the contract’s next phase continue to be subject to the approval of Town Counsel Doug LoMonte.

As for the process, Burney said that the new building will be built just steps in front of where the current headquarters is located. Once the building is erected, police will be moved into the new space, but that is not where the project ends.

Many features in the rear of the new design, including parking bays, pavement and rear-facing building grading, can only be completed when the old building is taken down. All of that is included and anticipated in the current contingency costs, Burney said.

Construction is expected to start “as we get out of the worst of the next winter,” Burney told the selectmen.

“I will say, every time I go into the police department now, there’s a level of excitement,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said.