Hefty Price Tag For Hawley School HVAC, ADA Compliance

The Board of Finance flinches at the $8 million price tag and delays action on the project.


The Newtown Board of Finance balked Monday at moving ahead with long-planned improvements to Hawley School in the face of this year’s tight budget constraints.

Board Chairman John W. Kortze noted that the improvements to the Hawley School HVAC system has been on the CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) list for a decade, just prior to the start of a presentation by architect Charles W. Boos, of Kaestle Boos, and engineer Brian D. Wetzel, of Consulting Engineering Services.

The consultants described the three-phase repair project that would replace the air conditioning, heating boilers and ventilation systems at the school, at a cost estimated at $8 million.

, with additions constructed in 1947 and 1997. Each of the three parts of the school still has its own boiler and ventilation system, which Boos said makes maintenance more expensive and complicated.

Boos said the three phase project would replace those systems with a single system for the whole school using new, high efficiency equipment that would improve performance and reduce costs.

"This has been hanging out there for a long time," Kortze said in his introduction.

Boos said this is an opportunity to bring the bring the 1921 portion of the school into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)., which the town would probably have to do eventually. "It is not code compliant, and it is in violation," Boos said, news that stunned Board of Finance members.

Boos and Wetzel recommended approval of the higher-cost renovations to become ADA compliant. While the project would cost $12 million, it would then eligible for state school construction reimbursement, reducing the town’s share to $10 million.

The more expensive option also includes removing asbestos and possibly other hazardous materials.

But this is a difficult year for approving a new, expensive, improvement project,  First Selectman Patricia Llodra pointed out. She reminded the BOF that the town is facing its fifth budget referendum this year, and even if it passes that would result in a very tight 2012-13 budget.

The BOF thought approving the additional monies would be difficult.

When the Board of Finance learned that the design consultants had not yet presented the project to the Board of Education, they delayed voting on the item on their agenda: a proposed appropriation of $280,000 for architectural and engineering work to prepare the plans so the project could go out to bid.

Boos said it didn’t have to be approved that night, but he warned against delaying too long. If the project doesn’t go out to bid by January, the contractor won’t be able to start early enough to complete Phase 1, work on the 1947 section of the building, during the summer of 2013.

Paul Alexander July 10, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Hawley should be closed as a school. It is too expensive to maintain. Hawley should follow the Congregational Church model. Shut Hawley down as a school. Tear down all but the original structure. Repurpose the building and property.
Paul Alexander July 10, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Have it all done in time to celebrate the building's Centennial. Now THERE's a vision!
James Hat July 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
THIS is exactly why I continue to vote NO! There is no finacial planning in this town at all. Me and my 401k are heading to Texas where the jobs are
Oldschool July 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Bring back Dr. Reed!
Paul Alexander July 10, 2012 at 04:50 PM
James, People who spend other people’s money rarely do the type of risk/reward based financial planning they ought to do. They are essentially lazy. It’s much easier to just fast track an initiative and then pry more money out of the taxpayer’s pockets to make it work. That’s how you end up like this...(You might want to pop a couple of Xanax before opening the link.) http://www.caseyresearch.com/sites/default/files/chart1_3.jpg Texas is a rising state. Connecticut is circling the drain. Good luck. You’ll wish you had pulled the trigger on moving YEARS earlier.
Paul Alexander July 10, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Adding up the numbers in the chart...Connecticut's Tax Burden per Taxpayer is GREATER than the first (lowest) 30 States, COMBINED! How is it POSSIBLE that ANY taxing authority in the state of Connecticut can even be contemplating spending ANY additional money???
DaveD July 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
paul, but using the Brilliant Newtown philosophy...its ONLY 49,000...whats the big deal, and surely we can make that 100,000 (we just have to spend more... i mean if we dont our kids will suffer, and it wont be nicer here.... we will all live horrible lives and die alone!!!) this gets more and more sickening by the day. Did i get that right? or do i need to drink more of the funny sauce...?
Big Family July 10, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I can't believe that $12m is being dicussed. Close Hawley and keep only the original section, if there is a need for classrooms move town hall back to Edmond and convert the nice new municipal center into a school. I bet that won't cost $12 million.
Paul Alexander July 10, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Big Fam, Good thought about transitioning the Municipal Center into a school and herding the town government back into ETH. Never happen though. Those who think they wear crowns on their heads need a suitable castle. Screw the kids. Besides, politicians are generally very linear thinkers. Not a lot of imagination or creativity in their critical thinking and problem solving skill set. And why should they think outside their small, public sector box? They just hold a gun to your head (pay more taxes or we’ll take your home) when they need more money to put more lipstick on whatever pig of a program their egos are tied to.
Big Family July 10, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Paul, that's the whole deal, they talk about "it's all about the kids" and yet I hear no response to eliminating administrators to add teachers and PO where are you with your thoughts about NOT spending $12 million and just making a small adjustment to solve a problem and God forbid save our money.
Wayne Addessi July 10, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I would suggest you offer to work on a committee and attend the next meeting for this project at Hawley and make your voice heard. If you want to create change here than serve on a committee but before you do find a friend, neighbor that will join you make change. If you are a contractor or HVAC contractor please look to offering your services on this project and review it with the town and it may be that this is not the right plan. Are there residents working on this project with the town? Do any of you offer your time to work with the town?
DaveD July 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Wayne the boos and wetzel show are from new Britain and Middletown... and don’t we have a town Engineer? why are we having someone consult us?
Wayne Addessi July 10, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Town engineer is fine but just as we often hire project managers to control costs and manage all aspects of the project it would be ideal to have residents on the committee to manage oversight and add input during the review process. Maybe the town has this in place. I''m curious to know.
Ward Cleaver July 10, 2012 at 10:43 PM
So fill me in a little bit. A few months ago we decided that closing the newly built, air conditioned and ADA compliant school was in the towns best intrest to deal with the dropping student enrolment. Today we decide that we cannot wait any longer to upgrade the 90 year old school building to meet ADA requirements and add airconditioning. As a silly question, who will pay the bus drivers labor setlement and how much will that be, 2,4,8,20 million? This demonstrates a total lack of leadership.......sad sad sad.....................
Douglas Brennan July 11, 2012 at 01:59 AM
It is so funny that people are advocating the closing of the school that produces more more valedictorians and top students then the other Elementary Schools in Town isn't it? Maybe the students were successful because of the lack of a cafeteria or perhaps the lack of AC or maybe it was the use of the portable classrooms? Why close the school that traditionally has obtained the best results? Progress. Maybe we should ask some of the former students to come up with a better design for the HVAC. I am sure that they could do it for a lot less then 12 million.
Sam Mihailoff July 11, 2012 at 02:01 AM
close all the schools buy all the students I-Pads sign up for some online service no need for Superintendent or BoE Everybody happy now? Mommy would need to be home though...guess that won’t work either, huh
DD July 11, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Let's see, the Hvac price doubled in the last 10 years? This is not even close to passing MY sniff test. Contractor labor rates have not doubled in the last 10 years and if my recollection is correct, wasn't there a rebid of the high school addition where the overall cost actually came down due to the economy and bidding climate? If you read the article, it seems they are adding ADA renovations to the project that was previously HVAC only. This would account for cost increases and they could be substantial depending on the extent. Po, you are a wealth of knowledge but I think there may be a significant scope of work change here rather than simple inflationary cost increases from "dragging our feet" I truly hope that we are not seeing more misinformation/disinformation, and lack of transparency that has caused so much distrust in this town. Wayne, I agree with you......time for some of the people in this town with the appropriate backgrounds to volunteer their expertise.
S.Q. July 11, 2012 at 05:17 AM
2012 revaluation - anyone know what is going on? Last time we had one the Newtown Bee had all kinds of stories, including what streets were being done on which days! Now nothing. Yet property is supposed to be revalued by October 1st and a firm was hired. This seems off track but it is not. If there really is a reval going on (of which I've seen no evidence) AND we have no budget, it seems like a lot of things are up in the air right now...
Mr D. July 11, 2012 at 11:40 AM
$8MM would indeed go a long way towards a new school.
Alex Tytler July 11, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Why do we need a new school? We don't have enough kids to fill the schools we have.
Jan Andras July 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Yes Wayne, we have a Public Building & Site Committee made up of residents that oversees projects. Right now this project is just being designed by architects - with their estimates. The next step would be to send the prepared design out to bid. The high school addition bids came in much lower than were anticipated. And BTW, our Town Engineer is not a building engineer.
Thomas Crafts July 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Very quiet, on purpose.The minute they have a budget this is next on the hit list.
Bob July 11, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Just remember to vote NO tomorrow !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thomas Crafts July 11, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Vote NO, vote NO often!
Douglas Brennan July 11, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Many people think that they way to change a projects cost is in the bidding phase. Usually during bidding a project's cost will vary by only plus or minus 5%. Whereas during feasibility the project's ultimate cost can be changed by 30 to 50%. So the time for action is not when bids are received but when the project is going through its feasibility phase not when we are receiving bids from various contractors especially in CT which has "fixed labor rates" for these contracts.
Big Family July 11, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Jan Andras, The fact that this project is being funded in any way is a complete waste of taxpayer money that might be better used for the KIDS. Close the school and send the town hall back to Edmond and use the Municipal center as a school. I wonder if the town could make better use of the Hawley site as business offices, you know for taxes.
Kinga Walsh July 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM
A few points: the a/c upgrade is part of an overall hvac upgrade due to the heating issues over the winter months not only the summer few weeks and a/c "want". In the winter, classrooms range in temperature from 68 to almost 80 due to inefficient boilers. Second, there is a financial trust connected to the building from Mary Hawley that stipulates that the building be used as a school and if the use is changed the funding ends. These funds, for example, were used a few years ago to help with the build-out of the cafeteria. Finally, the overall air quality is an issue. Many kids (mine included) suffer from breathing and allergy issues more so in one area of the building than others.
Wayne Addessi July 12, 2012 at 11:20 AM
Kinga, I agree with all that you pointed out, my son too has allergies and I would want the air quality ideal for him an all that use the facility. The dollars are just so incredibly high at this time when taxpayers are trying to rationalize the degree of what are urgent expenditures. It is a shame that HVAC improvements were not included when the expansion was planned at Hawley. Naturally this additional expenditure now in the face of the 5th budget referendum is just more poor planning. When I met with Pat Llodra I expressed my point in finding new ways to generate revenue in place of raising taxes. Also Newtown needs to dramatically reduce our expenses at FFH by finallly developing a defined plan for FFH that is profitable and will give residents what we want to see there which must include well planned commercial development, living spaces for seniors, open space, ball fields and more. Until this is finalized spending millions more on Hawley should wait a bit longer.
Steve White July 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Concerned Citizens and Parents: How Should You Vote Today? http://prezi.com/lw8b4rf_wbjc/newtown-ct-referendum-5-july-12/
Big Family July 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM
If the funding doesn't cover all the HVAC upgrade then close the school and let the funding end. The Municipal center is up to code and has fine quality air.


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