Town Lines up to Push Old Greenwich School Renovation Forward…What will the BET do?

The Old Greenwich School building committee gathered at 7:00am Tuesday for its 52nd meeting.

Representatives from architects Silver Petrucelli & Associates presented the final schematic design report and recommended modifications to the ed specs. Downes Construction Co presented revised cost estimates.

Rendering of renovated Old Greenwich School (not final).

The building committee is prepared to meet next week’s June 30 deadline to apply for state reimbursement.

Should the committee miss the deadline the project will be delayed a year.

Moreover, a delay would mean a nearly $3 million cost increase. During the meeting, to put $3 million in context, it was noted that amount of money would be enough to pay for a full roof replacement and to replace all the school’s windows.

Back in March, when the building committee briefed the Board of Education and Board of Estimate and Taxation on their estimate of $35 million, it was prior to the project estimates having gone through schematic design.

Since then three items emerged that reflect the biggest changes to that estimated cost. All were unforeseen costs.

First, there were incremental costs for phasing the project in a way to keep the children in the building during the project.

Second were costs for hazardous material abatement/demolition and reconstruction.

Third was the cost to expand HVAC to include the entire school. Initially the ed specs did not include HVAC for roughly 25% of the building, including, for example, stairwells and corridors.

As a result the $35.9 million estimated cost rose to almost $42 million.

Revised cost estimates from Downes Construction Co presented June 20, 2023
Total project cost: $41,881,873
Approved Funding: $24,500,000
15% Estimated State reimbursement: $6,282,281
Greenwich Responsibility $35,599,592

After discussion, the nine member building committee took three critical votes. All three were approved unanimously.

First, they voted to approve the final schematic design report.

Second, they voted on the recommended modifications to the ed specs.

Third, they voted on the revised project cost estimates from Downes Construction Company.

While the news was positive, the meeting ended in something of a cliffhanger.

With just 10 days remaining until the June 30 deadline to apply to the state for reimbursements, approval is needed from the BOE, BET, and Representative Town Meeting.

As for the BOE, following Tuesday building committee meeting, the BOE scheduled a special meeting for on Wednesday, June 21 at 5:30pm where they will consider the estimates, schematic design and ed spec revisions.

Reached by phone Alexis Voulgaris, moderator of the RTM, morning she was standing by to call a special meeting of the RTM.

She said she had made the same offer to both the Old Greenwich School and Central Middle School building committees.

“I told Joe Kelly, Dan Ozizmir, Tony Turner, and James Waters that if there was a need for the RTM to meet so they could make their June 30 deadline with the state, that I would make sure the RTM fulfilled its obligation and we would have a special meeting,” Voulgaris said.

After the building committee meeting, Mr. Waters said the estimate had come in right around where it was expected it to be.

On a dollar-per sq-ft basis, Waters said the new figure was well within the average for renovation projects in the state of Connecticut, and in fact lower than many renovations under way on across the state.

“From the building committee and estimator’s perspective, this project is costing right where the market is. And they’ve found some ways to save some money,” Waters said. “We’re ready. Will the BOE and BET act?  The building committee has tee’d this project, done everything we’ve been asked to do and we are in a position to hit the June 30 submission deadline if the BOE and BET act.”

Waters said the building committee had rolled up their sleeves and gone through details with a fine tooth comb to find savings and efficiencies while upholding the spirit of the ed specs.

If all the approvals line up and the application is submitted to the state by June 30, the project is on track to start in the summer of 2024.

Later Tuesday morning, at the Board of Selectmen meeting, Selectperson Janet Stone McGuigan said that while the RTM and BOE were willing to hold special meetings, her understanding was the BET was not willing to schedule one.

“I urge the BET to support the Old Greenwich School project and at least hear the committee’s request,” Stone McGuigan said.

An email Tuesday to Dan Ozizmir asking about a BET special meeting on OGS was not returned.

Rendering of renovated Old Greenwich School (not final).
Old Greenwich School today. Photo: Leslie Yager

See also

Disappointment Echoes as Major Renovation at Old Greenwich School Deferred to FY25

Building Committee “Moving with Purpose” on Renovation Plans for Iconic Old Greenwich School