Brattleboro board approves police-fire design proposals


BRATTLEBORO >> Design proposals for upgrading the town's fire department facilities and renovating the Reformer building for police relocation were approved Tuesday night pending review by the town attorney.

"We continue to encourage anyone and everyone who's interested in the matter to come to Select Board meetings and participate and to ask questions," Select Board Chairman David Gartenstein said after voting on three contracts. "This a fully-transparent project and process. And we want everybody to participate and know what's going on."

Steve Horton will serve as the owner's project manager after the Select Board approved of his not-to-exceed $105,000 fee. He had been involved when planning for these projects began back in 2013. But a budget was rejected by voters in a town-wide referendum in 2014, causing the projects to be delayed up until this year's annual Representative Town Meeting when the budget was approved. The town has talked about bringing police and fire facilities up to modern standards for more than 20 years.

Also approved Tuesday were the not-to-exceed $507,800 proposal from Northeast Collaborative Architects, DEW Construction Corporation's $220,000 fee for construction-phase services and its $15,300 fee for pre-construction phase services.

"They (DEW) take on some substantial risk from the construction-manager approach as opposed to a low-bid general contractor and they get paid a $200,000 fee that is in recognition of the project-manager responsibility and risk that they assume in that style of contract," said Town Manager Peter Elwell. "Steve (Horton) feels very comfortable this is very justified and appropriate for a project of this size."

Northeast Collaborative's quote was $26,300 higher than expected in estimates outlined in documents made public before Representative Town Meeting.

"That caught my eye," said Elwell, who reviewed the figure with Horton and called it accurate and reasonable. "The explanation there is not that the scope of work has increased but that back in the summer unfortunately there was a mathematical error in converting the estimated hours to the estimated fee. So the estimated hours have remained the same but we should have quoted in the prior estimates $26,000 higher than we did."

Design costs for the facility upgrades and police relocation to Black Mountain Road are a little under $1.3 million out of a project expected to come in just over $9 million. Police are currently housed at the Municipal Center.

By moving the police to the Reformer building on Black Mountain Road, a new design will be needed altogether. The newspaper will continue to operate there and serve as a tenant.

A plan for upgrades at the West Brattleboro Fire Station only needs some finishing touches, according to Elwell. The downtown-based Central Fire Station will get a redesign.

Approximately $600,000 associated with the design work completed in 2013 and 2014 is expected to impact the total amount of the project cost, Elwell said. DEW's proposal was $20,000 lower for fire-facility projects when they were approved back then but the bid was never awarded due to the referendum.

Contact Chris Mays at or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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