DPW, Adult Center Projects Enter Design Phase

LONGMEADOW, MA – Construction of the town’s new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility and Adult Center are gaining steam, with both now in the design phase.

According to Town Manager Stephen Crane, the design of the DPW is nearly complete. The new DPW will be located at the former Grande Meadows site on Dwight Road. Colliers International led a pre-qualification process for potential contractors, as required by Massachusetts General Law. Crane said the town hopes to formally open the bidding process sometime in February.

Crane noted that market conditions are affecting the costs associated with the DPW project, with the current projection about $1 million more than original estimates.

“The single biggest factor in price is the availability of contractors,” Crane recently told the Select Board. “February is a good time to bid because all the big general contractors are lining up their work for the year. We think we are going to enter into a favorable time for bidding (in February), mostly because we got a very robust response to our sub(contractor) bid pre-qualifications.”

Voters at the town meeting in May approved $21.2 million for the project. Crane said local officials are already working to eliminate the $1 million overage estimated by the town’s independent cost estimator.

“We don’t want people to be alarmed by that number at this stage of the game,” said Crane. “This is why you do an estimate (during design and development), so you can flush out that type of information.”

Approximately $300,000 of the $1 million overage comes from the town’s commitment to ensuring the new building meets Zero Net Energy standards. However, Crane said the town anticipates that cost will be covered through a Green Communities grant.

Other unexpected costs that are driving up the price include asbestos remediation related to paint in the existing structure at Grande Meadows. While the building is being demolished to make way for the new DPW, the asbestos must first be removed. During testing, it was also discovered that the site does not have adequate water pressure for the required fire suppression system. To manage that issue, a new pump room and pump system was added to the plans.

To combat these cost increases, Crane said they are planning to shrink the building area and make other adjustments that will make up the difference and bring the project back on budget.

Another project, across town, has also entered the design phase. John Catlin, from Catlin & Petrovick Architects, recently presented preliminary plans for the proposed new Adult Center at Greenwood Park. The new building would be more than 25,000 square feet, and would serve as both a community center and a senior center. Plans include an 8,200-square-foot gymnasium, classrooms, a food pantry, a lounge, a library, a kitchen, a stage, an outdoor patio, fitness and game areas, and offices for Adult Center staff, the veterans’ director, and a nurse. Much of the building would be open to the community outside of regular Adult Center hours.

Crane said the building plans include a lot of open spaces and glass, providing natural sunlight for the space.

“There are a lot of innovative parts of this design,” said Crane, noting that the plans also include plenty of parking, enough space for a “flex” field, and an outdoor pickle ball court. “When we look at the challenges with the current facility, this really hits all the high points in meeting those challenges to continue providing high-quality services as well as add new services in the future.”

Early estimates of the projected cost to construct the new Adult Center are approximately $14.4 million. A town meeting vote in May provided the funds necessary for the design phase, but the actual cost to construct a new Adult Center has not yet been brought forward for town meeting approval.

– Article by Sarah Leete Tsitso