2018-06-08 / In the Know

Project update: Public safety building

By Thomas Perkins Special to the Leader

The project team has been busy this month with several activities, working hard toward bringing the public safety building project to fruition.

On the permitting front, we have made the submission to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which includes review by the Maine Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and various other state and federal agencies. As part of this process, a public hearing was held at the Oak Hill public safety building to hear abutter and other citizen concerns in late April.

This was the latest of more than a dozen other scheduled public informational meetings about the project over the past year.

A very positive outcome came from this latest meeting, in that the project team heard specific concerns about the proposed access road that passes through the southeast corner of the park and its potential impact to both the park use and local traffic.

Similar to the current situation, a direct emergency vehicle response entrance to Route 1 would place emergency responders directly into frequent traffic backups. The proposed access road will allow responders to access Route 1 from Sawyer Road so that our police, fire and rescue crews can avoid the often-congested area around Memorial Drive for faster and safer response to emergency situations.

As we reviewed this with the citizens in attendance at our meeting, we arrived at an alternate solution to lessen the impact to the park and still provide the needed access around the traffic problems.

The access road will now traverse the very edge of the park and its width nearly cut in half for one-way, emergency vehicle use only. The parking originally planned alongside the access road will be added onto the new proposed parking lot and the sidewalk will be removed to let the current walk path serve pedestrian access.

It also lessens the impact to the Memorial Park trees and benches and will not require relocation of the arch monument.

All in all, the project team felt the true and intended benefit of the public forum process was realized and collaboratively we believe that the revised access road plan is both better for the emergency responders and the citizens of Scarborough who frequent the park.

The DEP permitting process is lengthy and thorough, and we expect to have permits in hand by late summer so the construction can begin.

Other permitting efforts are also underway. The state fire marshal’s office will perform its plan review of our project in early June. Its focus is life safety, ADA/barrier-free access and other building code concerns and we expect that process to take six to eight weeks.

Our local code enforcement officer has already reviewed and commented on the plans, so we anticipate a smooth process at the state level. Additionally, the project has been submitted to the planning board for advisory review. This hearing is scheduled for June 4 and we would welcome everyone who is interested in the nearly finalized aesthetics of the building to come hear our presentation on that date.

Additionally, plans for the building have been progressing on schedule. In addition to the monthly ad hoc building committee meetings and various weekly focus meetings, our project team meets in a large group bi-weekly to review overall progress as well as focus on specific engineering and architectural disciplines as the design matures.

We targeted a 100 percent design completion for the site work and structural design on June 1, followed by the balance of the building design on July 2. Landry French, our construction manager, will then engage a formal bidding process with the subcontracting community to arrive at a guaranteed maximum price for the project. This final quote is scheduled to be in hand by Aug. 1, which we hope will coincide with the arrival of the DEP and other permit approvals so the project can officially get underway.

As part of this preconstruction process, the project team has developed another interim construction cost estimate to help ensure the financial success of the design and the project. The estimate involved more in-kind subcontractor community participation than the previous estimates and revealed some very telling facts about the current state of the construction market in Maine.

As basic supply and demand economic principles would predict, the busy construction market in southern Maine is driving both labor and material prices higher. Coupling this with recent tariff discussions on metals have apparently triggered widespread commodity markups, some as much as 25 percent since January of this year.

This estimate brought all of these market conditions to light, so the project team has worked hard to develop a value-management list of items of comparable quality and function for lesser cost, as well as some items that will be listed as add alternates in the final price such that they may be added in at any point during the project should funds within the budget be available.

Despite the current market conditions, the project team is confident that we have a full and complete viable project plan in the current design which we anticipate should only improve after the full competitive subcontracting bidding process scheduled to start next month.

Thomas Perkins and Dirigo Architectural Engineering are owner’s representative for the public safety building project.

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