Plans for the estimated $40 million renovation of Miller-Driscoll Elementary School are "moving along" and a school building committee will be appointed soon, First Selectman William Brennan informed during Wednesday's meeting between the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Education to discuss school capital projects.
Follwing selection of an architect, schematics for the renovations will be completed in 2014, with an aim to start construction in 2015, Brennan said.
In addition a revised statement of requirements — the document which drives the design of the school — has been completed and approved by the Board of Education and will be presented at the next meeting of the Board of Selectmen, he said.
"We've got some pretty good people who have volunteered to be on the building committee," Brennan said, adding that the committee will include representatives from the Board of Education, school administration, Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen, as well as members of the community with backgrounds in construction and project management.
Brennan said he was concerned, however, that bids for the school project may come in over budget. Recent bids to replace the roofs at Middlebrook School and the Comstock Community Center came in slightly above initial estimates.
Since the Miller-Driscoll project was first proposed in 2006 town officials have debated whether to renovate the current facility or build an entirely new school. Should cost estimates cross a certain threshold the town may feel compelled to scrap renovation plans in favor of new construction, because it will be more cost effective.
During a Board of Selectmen meeting in December, Ty Tregallas of Milford-based Turner Construction reported that the school building was structurally sound and recommended renovation.
Roofing Projects Go Out to Bid
Brennan said the town is drafting RFPs and will soon be soliciting bids from roofing contractors for the replacement of the roofs on Middlebrook and Comstock.
During a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, Erin Aichler, Project Manager for Hamden-based Hoffmann Architects, provided an overview of the roof projects, which essentially entail replacing most of the roofs at the two facilities.
Hoffmann Architects was hired to assist Turner Construction to develop the schematic designs for the roofs at Comstock Community Center and Middlebrook School, including "good, better, best" alternatives for replacement, and estimated construction costs for each.
Aichler discussed the current condition of the roofs, what needs to be done to repair them, and alternatives for repairing them. She said the single-ply EPDM (rubber membrane) roofs on Comstock and Middlebrook are, on average 20 or more years old.
She added that Comstock has a lot of broken HVAC equipment that will need to be removed and/or replaced when the roof project is done.
Aichler said inspection of the roofs revealed "ponding" of rain water resulting from trees debris clogging roof drains. This in turn is causing leaks which in turn is causing mold conditions.
The drains in the courtyard at Middlebrook School will be repaired as part of the roof repair at that school, she said.
Aichler presented three roof replacement options — however she noted that "the only real difference is the membrane" used. The first option is to go with a single-ply standard EPDM roof. The second option includes installing a single-ply roof with a thicker membrane. The third option is to install a two-ply "modified bitumin" roof with the thicker membrane. The third option she said offers the best protection from leaks, the longest life, and greater durability over the other options.
If standard single-ply EPDM roofs are installed at both facilities, including a total of five roofs at Middlebrook and three roofs at Comstock, the estimated cost is $715,000 for Comstock and $965,000 for Middlebrook. That does not include the removal of the HVAC equipment.
During the meeting, Brennan said he would ask the Council on Public Facilities to make a recommendation on what type of roofs to use at each facility.
Malcolm Whyte, Chair of CPF, however, asked that if the Council takes the time to do the analysis, and ends up recommending a more expensive roof, that the selectmen then not reject the recommendation.
"We spend a great deal of time pouring over the details such proposals," Whyte said. "One thing I would ask you to do... is not just reject based on cost... if we must look at all the alternatives. This way we don't come back and say, 'we recommend this,' and you say, 'no way we're not going to do that,' based on the money..."
Brennan pointed out that if the board waited until May to request additional funding for the project from the town meeting, the town would not have enough time to go to contract and get the job completed during summer, as planned.
The Board of Selectmen is also in the process of finding members for a building committee to oversee the roofing projects. Members of that committee are expected to be announced in March.
The roofing project for Comstock is just one of a series of improvements for the community center totaling about $4 million. Other improvements include replacing the generator and boiler system, installing additional heating in the front lobby, replacing windows and providing new ventilation and air conditioners.