Miller-Driscoll: Project stands $5 million under budget

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Miller-Driscoll renovation project could be brought in for as much as $5.3 million under budget. With reimbursement from the state in the vicinity of $7 million, the cost to taxpayers could be $38 million. The original total estimated cost of the project was $50 million.

Nine remaining bid contracts — not taken up last week — were recommended by Turner Construction and approved by the building committee at its meeting on Nov. 10. They totaled $5.3 million.

Significant savings were realized in the roofing contract, which came in at $2.2 million under budget.

Committee co-chairs Karen Birck and Bruce Hampson will now inform First Selectman Bill Brennan that the bid contracts were accepted and recommend they be brought before the Board of Selectmen for review at its next meeting, Nov. 16.

During their discussion of the bids, committee member Glenn Hemmerle asked architect Randall Luther of Tai Soo Kim and project manager Mike Douyard of Turner Construction if they knew of or had worked with some of the major firms that were the successful low bidders.

Luther said “there are some contractors that would concern me, but none of them are on that list,” referring to the low bidders for the Miller-Driscoll project. Of those on the list, he said he had positive, neutral or no experiences with them.

Douyard said “some are better than others but nothing stands out as a problem.”

All those bidding on a project costing more than $500,000 must be on the state’s list of prequalified bidders. The state requires that for any project involving state money, the lowest qualified bidder must be accepted. Failure to do so would open the town to litigation by the dismissed bidder.

According to the state Department of Administrative Services, which manages the prequalification process, the five criteria taken into consideration are:

• Integrity.

• Work experience (skill and ability).

• Experience and qualifications of supervisory personnel employed by the applicant.

• Financial condition.

• Safety.

In addition, Douyard said, Turner has its own set of qualifications to determine if a low bidder can really deliver. It also asks the bidders what other projects they would be working on at the same time and how that would impact their performance.

The contracts that were used for the bids are national contracts that are renewed periodically by trade organizations and associations, and updated to reflect new laws,  Luther said. Any changes made are those that concern local issues. Town Counsel Ken Bernhard has reviewed the contracts and made changes customary for Wilton project, he added.

These contracts are the same as those used for the Comstock Community Center project, Hampson said.
Moving forward
Last week, 13 bid packages were recommended to the Board of Selectmen, with a request that the first selectman be given authority to sign and execute them. The board elected not to do that at its regular meeting on Nov. 2, and scheduled a special meeting Nov. 4 to review the contracts. With a large turnout of community members, the meeting was contentious, and by a 3-2 vote, only six of the 13 contracts were approved.

“There is a concern” moving forward, due to the delay in approving contracts, building committee co-chair Karen Birck told The Bulletin Tuesday evening.

One of the contracts approved was for demolition and abatement. Turner would like to begin with hazardous material abatement while students are out of school for Thanksgiving vacation.

The areas to be worked on are where the peach core connects to what were once separate Miller and Driscoll schools. Before this work can begin, the state must approve the asbestos abatement plan to be submitted by Niram Inc., the company that won the bid, and the hygienists from TRC.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the PCB removal plan, and the state is expected to follow the EPA’s lead, Douyard and Luther said.

“Our main goal is to construct when school is not in session,” Douyard said, with a goal of demolishing the peach core beginning Dec. 28, the first available day of the holiday vacation.

Before that can happen, enabling work needs to be done, including shutting off electrical and mechanicals, a new data line installed, temporary sprinklers installed, windows in rooms near the peach core boarded up, and sound barriers erected.

In addition, some of the contractors who will be working on the project will have to purchase materials and equipment, some of which have long lead times for ordering and delivery.