School renovation will be completed early

An expanded hazardous material abatement process will result in changes to the Miller-Driscoll renovation project’s timeline and it will dip into the project’s contingency budget to cover expanded costs. However, there is no increase in the cost of the project and the budget’s bottom line will remain unchanged, according to Chris Burney, Wilton’s director of facilities and energy management.

“Early in the project this committee did commit to an abatement process which would eliminate identifiable hazardous materials,” Burney said at the building committee meeting on April 7. In addition to the areas that have already been defined as having hazardous materials, such as window caulking, tests will be conducted on areas where there are suspected hazardous materials. This would take the project far beyond requirements set by federal and state requirements in that testing would take place in areas that are not impacted by construction.

Identifying these areas would cost about $24,000, Burney said. “The cost of abatement, should we find everything we think would be PCB-contaminated, our conservative estimate … is $440,000. We would like to think it’s considerably less.” This number was arrived at by Burney, Turner Construction, and the abatement contractor.

The project’s contingency budget stands at $3.4 million, and Burney suggested taking the $440,000 from there. The $24,000 can be taken from other accounts that were “enthusiastically budgeted” early on, he said.

Recalling a brochure used as a publicity piece two years ago, project Vice Chair Glenn Hemmerle said that “in that brochure we committed to removing all hazardous material.”

Despite being well within regulatory guidelines, Hemmerle added, the committee is still “getting pushback and some feedback from the public regarding this issue. … It’s the right thing for us to do to put this issue to rest and deal with it and move forward.”

“In line with this, the other piece of it is that the schedule changes … all the abatement work that is done, will be done without children present in the school,” he said. Much of it will be done over the summer.

“We are going to test product that we can find, that we can see, that we believe to be potentially hazardous. … We will not demolish every brick wall and every masonry partition just to see what’s behind it, because if that is the standard we are held to, we will demolish the school and rebuild it. So we will abate all those products that are discoverable and identifiable without demolition of otherwise sound material,” Burney said.

The hygienist hired to do the original hazardous material study indicated areas where material existed that would be affected by the construction. These had to be abated. He also, project manager Mike Douyard said, indicated other areas similar in nature that might also contain hazardous materials, and these are the areas that will be tested.

To accommodate concerns of parents and educators regarding demolition of the pre-K wing while children are in school and conducting hazardous abatement during weeklong vacations, the committee approved a change in the construction schedule that actually speeds up completion, but at a cost.


  • When an area is abated, children will not go back into that area until it is renovated.

  • The pre-K building will be demolished this summer vacation.

  • Instead of handing the school over in December 2017, that will be moved up to Labor Day 2017. Work that does not affect what goes on inside the school will continue.

The costs associated with this would be approximately $500,000:

  • Additional hazardous waste/demolition costs (more workers and equipment): $91,550.

  • Extended lease on portable classrooms for six months: $21,000.

  • MEP sequencing/acceleration costs (mechanical): $100,000.

  • Accelerated roofing: $49,000.

  • Various trades sequencing/acceleration costs: $75,000.

  • Additional supervision costs: $172,000.

These funds would come from uncommitted costs in the general requirements (things like propane, tarp and premium time), unboughts (such as provisions for weather events) and soft costs (such as insurance) lines of the budget. They would not be taken from the contingency budget.

The vote to go ahead with the expanded abatement process was approved 8-1. The vote to move ahead with the schedule change was 5-4 in favor.

The committee’s next meeting is Thursday, May 12, at 5 p.m. in the Wilton High School library mezzanine. Regularly scheduled meetings will take place the second Thursday of each month.