Miller-Driscoll project: Design phase comes to an end

At its meeting on Thursday, June 18, the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee voted to approve the renovation project’s construction documents to present to the Board of Education tonight, June 25. The state considers the board the “owner” of the project and as such it must approve the documents before the project can be sent to the state for its approval.
Bruce Hampson, chair of the building committee, said “we will show them the drawings that have been completed and review the cost estimate, which is still on budget.”
A summary of the construction costs, presented at the June 18 meeting, shows a breakdown of expenses:

  • Additions — $12.5 million (Pre-K addition is $2.7 million, "peach core" addition is $9.8 million);

  • Renovations and Demo — $23.6 million;

  • Sitework — $4.7 million;

  • Temporary Classrooms — $748,000;

  • “Soft” costs — $8.4 million.

These costs total $50,022,000, with a total cost to the town, after state re-imbursement, of $43,894,000.
The $23.6 million in renovations and demolition breaks down to:

  • Core & Shell Renovation — $7.6 million;

  • Pre-K Renovation — $2.6 million;

  • Renovation Fitout — $13.5 million.

The soft costs include things like architectural and engineering fees ($2.1 million); furniture, fixtures and equipment ($1.7 million); playground equipment ($195,000); utility company charges ($127,000); and a construction contingency of $3.5 million for unanticipated expenses.
When the committee goes to the state, it will present the plan completion test (PCT) and the state will review the project plans and specifications. Hampson said in the past state employees would do this but because of cuts in personnel, the state asks municipalities to hire an independent consultant to review all code compliance. Wilton has hired Pierz Associates at a cost of $29,700. The company was chosen from an approved list provided by the state.
The state will then review this report and will also review what the building committee submits as eligible for reimbursement. Only after the state gives its approvals can the project go out for bid.
In addition to code compliance, the state will not clear the way for bids until the U.S. EPA signs off on the committee’s abatement plan for PCBs, a widely used environmental toxin banned in 1979. Ninety percent of the PCBs found in Miller-Driscoll have been in the external sealant of windows, Hampson said. There were very few places where PCBs in excess of 50 ppm were found.
“We are not even close to what we thought would be the worst case,” he said, adding the hope is the Boston office of EPA will approve what is called a self-improvement plant (SIP) by the end of July. The plan includes both the abatement and discard of the PCBs.

Special permits

The project cleared another hurdle on Monday, June 22, when the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special permit for the general renovations and additions. The commission had concerns about traffic circulation and parking. The architectural firm Tai Soo Kim proposed 199 parking spaces — one for every full-time staff member and one for every 10 pupils. This is an increase over the current 156 parking spaces at Miller-Driscoll.
Commissioner Franklin Wong had concerns about   traffic flow, specifically pickup sites and the need for traffic to circle the pre-K wing to exit the premises. However, the other commissioners felt the traffic flow   was adequate.
“Maybe if this was a new project we could solve everything, but we’re trapped with a 50-year-old school,” Commissioner Doris Knapp said.
The resolution approving the special permit was approved, with Wong opposed.
The public hearing extended over three meetings, with no public comment at any of them.