Thursday July 18, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Even though it will be almost a year before the town breaks ground on the $14.2 million renovation of the police and fire facilities, the Selectboard this week began earmarking money for the work.

At its Tuesday night meeting the Brattleboro Selectboard approved about $1.14 million toward the project.

The biggest allocation was made for the contract with the architectural firm that will develop the plans for the renovations to the police station and for the two fire stations in Brattleboro.

Town Meeting Representatives approved the project at a special town meeting in October.

Northeast Collaborative Architects, a firm with offices in Rhode Island and Connecticut, was awarded the $850,000 contract by a unanimous vote of the board Tuesday.

NCA designed the new 26,000-square-foot fire station in Keene, N.H., as well as the emergency facilities complex for the Keene Police Department.

The board also authorized spending $290,000 to purchase the building at 14 Church St., the site of the former Custom Laundry and Linen Supply business.

That building will be torn down to make way for the expansion of the main fire station on Elliot Street.

And in the flurry of spending, the board also agreed to extend project manager Steve Horton's contract for the project.

Horton, who was hired in March, will now see the project through, overseeing the construction and reporting back to the Police Fire Facility Committee and the Selectboard as work advances.

With the board taking the steps Tuesday of starting to spend the money for the police and fire facility renovations, Town Manager Barbara Sondag said Finance Director John O'Connor had opened a new budget to track spending and incoming revenue on the project.

She said the town may be in line to receive some grants, such as those from Efficiency Vermont on energy upgrades, and it was important for the town to keep track of the money coming in and going out.

Sondag said bills will begin coming in from NCA as the firm proceeds with design work on the three buildings. "We want to start that process early," Sondag said about tracking costs. "We are expecting the Police-Fire Committee to track the costs and it is important to have good reporting so we can track the budget."

The amount of money allocated for the building at 14 Church St. is right in line with what was budgeted for the purchase, Sondag said.

As part of the deal the owners will have to take down the building but the town will be responsible for the phase one and two environmental studies.

If there are environmental issues outside the scope of the project, remediation costs up to $50,000 will be shared between the two parties. If the remediation costs go over $50,000 the two sides will negotiate with both parties getting the chance to remove themselves from the agreement.

The decision to retain Horton as project manager follows the board's vote at the last meeting to go with a construction management firm during the construction.

Sondag said it made sense to commit to the project manager early in the process so he can work closely with the architects as they develop plans.

As project manager Horton will report to the board.

His hiring eliminates the need to hire a clerk of the works.

The Police-Fire Facility Committee recommended that Horton be hired as construction manager.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or hwtisman@reformer.com. Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.