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Longmeadow High School on time, on budget

Date: 1/23/2012

Jan. 23, 2012

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW — Members of various committees, including the School Building Committee, the School Committee and the Finance Committee, as well as a representative from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) took a tour to gauge the progress of the construction of the new high school.

Robert Alger of Joslin, Lesser + Associates Inc., led a tour of the building, which is scheduled to be opened to students in February 2013. Once the new building is open, work will begin on renovating a portion of the existing building, which will be attached to the new portion. The entire school is expected to be completed by November 2013.

Presently, the erection of steel beams is continuing and there is a roof and the beginning stages of some outer walls being constructed. Despite early inclement weather in the form of the Oct. 29, 2011 snowstorm, the project remains on schedule for completion.

“Thanks to the dedication and hard work of the folks at Gilbane Building Company and our project management and design teams at Joslin Lesser + Associates and OMR Architects, not even an October [2011] snowstorm could slow us down,” Robert Barkett, co-chair of the School Building Committee, said.

Thomas Murphy, project manager from Joslin, Lesser + Associates, said other than the one storm, weather has cooperated.

“Other than that storm, there hasn’t been very much winter weather,” he said. “We had to alter the timing of some of the work we did, but the overall project schedule is the same.”

Murphy also pointed out that the project is on budget.

According to the project report dated Dec. 31, 2011 provided by Joslin, Lesser + Associates, which was released by the School Building Committee, nearly $72 million of the total $78.5 million budget for the project — 91.7 percent — has been committed.

By the end of December 2011, expenditures were projected to be at approximately $21.7 million; $19.3 million of that has been spent, with nearly $6.5 million being reimbursed by the MSBA.

“Once we send the request for reimbursement to the MSBA, the turnaround is fairly quick,” Murphy said. “They do a good job of cutting checks quickly.”

Addressing concerns that contingency funds were being spent quickly, Murphy said that the use of those funds was necessary.

“What people don’t understand is that contingency money is there to be spent,” Murphy said, explaining that the purpose of those funds is to take care of any unforeseen expenses not incorporated in the original projected cost.

Murphy used the example of the need to remove underground piping that was not known to exist as one use for the money. Also, the removal of hazardous materials was paid for with contingency funds.

Murphy added that once renovation of the section of the existing school begins, he expects needing to use more of those funds.

“When dealing with a building that is of this one’s design and age, we anticipate having to remove some hazardous materials, but from my experience, I would imagine we are going to find some things we didn’t anticipate once we start taking things down,” he explained.

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