2017-12-22 / Front Page

Building committee carries on

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Ad hoc committees are routinely formed by municipalities to look into, or make recommendations about a specific subject and are then disbanded after that charge is complete, but sometimes the committee drags on as the scope of their original endeavor changes.

The ad hoc public safety complex building committee was originally set up by the council in November 2016 to conduct a space needs analysis, create a preliminary design and cost estimates for the construction of a new public safety building.

In July, the council extended the group’s duties to after the November election – when the preliminary project and a $19.5 million bond request to fund the work was approved by voters – and earlier this month, once again extended the group’s work until after the project is completed.

Preliminary designs call for a 53,000-square-foot three-story building, with the lower level being home to the apparatus bay, fitness space, evidence storage, booking and locker rooms.

The mezzanine level – the highest point of the lower level – will include boiler and electrical spaces, room for SWAT team storage, weapons cleaning and room for future police or fire department expansion.

The first floor would include the public entrance, training room for staff or the public, dispatch, fire department kitchen, dining room and bedrooms, as well as work space for patrol officers. The second floor would include space for investigations and detectives, as well as police and fire administration, the staff lunch/break room and conference room.

Now, the committee will be part of a team of people to bring those preliminary plans through final design and construction.

As part of its updated charge, the committee will serve in an advisory role to “the staff and design team and provide feedback affecting scope and cost,” as well as exterior and interior materials and color choices.

The group will also look into energy efficiency life cycle costs as “specific physical plant systems are considered for final design.” The committee will also consider potential change orders during the construction phase of the project and provide periodic updates to the public about the project’s progress.

“I really see (this committee) as advisory in nature,” Town Manager Tom Hall said. “Before they were tasked with a very specific charge to report back specific information to council.”

To maintain the work that was done in the preliminary planning phase of the public safety building process, the membership of the committee will remain largely unchanged and include Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow, Police Chief Robbie Moulton, as well as Bruce Bell, Judy Roy, Kevin Freeman, Roger Chabot, Greg Hanscom, Rick Meinking, David Libby and Rocco Risbara.

This version of the committee will not include councilor participation, at least at this point. Councilor Peter Hayes and former councilor Kate St. Clair were part of the committee as it worked to draft a preliminary design and cost estimates in advance of the town-wide bond vote, but were not retained for the committee’s newest charge.

“No slight was intended by it. It was in recognition we are entering a new phase of the project,” Hall said.

Even if not official members of the committee, councilors will still be involved in the design process as it unfolds.

“I half expect the town council to appoint one or more councilors to the group. Communication is a really important part of the committee’s new charge. I expect some level of reporting out at council meetings and the town council chairman and perhaps other councilors to attend meetings,” he said.

Thurlow said the group met for the first time under its new charge last Friday.

Jeff Shaw, principal and architect of Context Architecture, the firm that helped the committee with its preliminary work, has been been brought back. The town is in the midst of a request for qualification process to hire a construction manager.

“That’s the next big thing to do because in our process that individual and our architect work together to avoid conflicts and make sure we are all working in the right direction,” Thurlow said of hiring a construction manager.

Interviews for the position will be held in early January. Hall said the town will also soon hire an owner’s representative to represent the town throughout the design and construction process. He said he may identify an owner’s representative he would like the town to hire and negotiate a contract from there or interview a short-listed field of candidates.

Design work will continue this spring and winter, with the hope of breaking ground some time by September. Moulton told the Leader last month, the goal is to start the foundation by Next November, with the hope of having the project complete by late 2019 or early 2020.

Hall said because of the project site’s location next to town hall on Route 1, motorists will be able to track progress as they pass through Oak Hill.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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