2012-03-30 / Community News

Wentworth committee hires owner’s representative

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

This week a new face joined the effort behind planning the new Wentworth Intermediate School project.

On March 26, Paul Koziell, chairman of the Wentworth Intermediate School Building Committee, introduced Phil LaClaire, of PML Project Management, who has been hired to be the owner’s representative for the project.

The owner’s representative is tasked with representing the owner – in this case the school district – at various construction meetings throughout the construction process. As owner’s representative, LaClaire will also be communicating the progress of construction with the school department, Harriman Associates, and others involved in the construction process and prepare monthly reports to Assistant Superintendent Jo Anne Sizemore.

He will also assist the school department with recording and reporting the financial status of the project and monitoring the quality of work by the project’s general contractor and subcontractor, among other tasks.

The contract between LaClaire and the school department is expected to run between April 2012 and October 2014.

LaClaire has been involved in the construction and design industry since he graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a degree in electrical engineering in 1972. Prior to starting his firm, PML Project Management 16 years ago, LaClaire worked at a variety of construction and architectural firms across the state and New England.

The director of business management and superintendent of the Falmouth School District introduced LaClaire to Scarborough education officials while he was working as the owner’s representative for the construction of a new 900-student elementary school.

“The timing of that project ending and this project starting fit quite well,” LaClaire said after the meeting on Monday.

Although he has just been introduced to the Wentworth project, LaClaire said he doesn’t have any concerns with what he has learned about the new school proposal so far.

“The good and bad thing about being 59 years old is you have been in the business a long time and seen just about everything,” he said.

He said he is impressed thus far with the amount of thought and energy being put into plans for the new school.

“It seems like a very good group of local people involved with this,” he said. “That is an encouraging thing. I am pleased about this opportunity.”

LaClaire, who lives in Fayette, half an hour northwest of Augusta, said it is his first job in Scarborough in recent years; he did do some sewage treatment work in town in the 1970s.

Koziell said LaClaire was one of the 12 candidates who applied for the position and one of three who were interviewed. LaClaire stood out for his ability to communicate, references, background and experience, Koziell said.

“Phil comes with a wealth of knowledge, experience and has a great background,” Koziell said on Monday.

As LaClaire familiarizes himself with the Wentworth project, the members of the building committee are putting the final touches on the site plan, which will be reviewed by the Planning Board on April 2. The board will review the plan and offer an advisory opinion on the merits of the proposal, but will not make any sort of binding decision on the plan.

Koziell said with the site plan more or less set, the focus of the committee and its subcommittees is to take a closer look onat what to include in the school and on its campus. Part of that is determining the design of things such as playground equipment and the greenhouse.

“We have the four corners of the school defined, now it is time to refine (the plan) and decide what we want in the school,” Koziell said

As those final touches get discussed, the school district will soon begin prequalifying contractors to see if they are able and equipped to handle a project of this size and scope. That process will begin in May. The hope is qualified bidders will submit their bids by July, the contractor and subcontractors are chosen by August and construction begins in September.

“This is going to be a $30 million project, so we want to make sure the contractors have the skill and ability to do the work, but also that they have the financing as well,” Koziell said.

Dan Cecil, senior architect at Harriman and Associates, the architectural firm helping to design the school, said prequalifying contractors is one of the single biggest parts of the process because it gives a chance for the district to get to know who may be bidding for the project.

“You get a pretty good sense of how these companies are run,” he said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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