If the Board of Finance doesn’t approve funding for design work for a new HVAC system for Hawley School soon, the project will be delayed for another year and the cost will rise, according to a member of the Public Building & Site Commission.
At a meeting last night, Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell and several members said they would attend the Board of Finance meeting tomorrow, July 26. They plan to urge the BOF to reconsider its .
Mitchell said the Board of Education cancelled its July meeting, which pushed the timetable for the Hawley School project into mid-September.
At that rate, Public Building & Site Commission member Tom Catalina said, the delay would mean Phase I of the project could not be started soon enough to complete it before the start of the 2013-14 school year.
"If we get in the middle of September, we lose a year," he said. "There’s no way to get the project done."
And that would mean an extra year’s delay, which Catalina said would increase the cost to the taxpayers by an estimated 3.5 to 5 percent.
Since the total project cost is projected at $8 million, such an increase would equal or exceed the $280,000 cost of the architectural design work, he noted.
Moreover, Catalina said it isn’t necessary to wait for the Board of Education because this is a building maintenance project, not a school project.
"This is not a Board of Ed project. They think it is, but it’s not," he said.
Another problem looms over the school building, originally built in 1921 and enlarged with additions in 1947 and 1997. The building isn’t compliant with handicapped access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The project under consideration is an opportunity to make the building ADA compliant, which would raise the cost to $12 million overall.
The architectural firm Kaestle Boos Associates has broken the project into three phases. The third phase, for the non-compliant 1921 section, could wait for the third year, meaning the decision on making the building ADA compliant doesn’t have to be made right now.
However, the commission maintains, if the Board of Finance doesn’t get the first phase started within the next month, it will only make the work more expensive down the road.