It’s time for an update on the Public Safety Building project. But first. . .
The Public Safety Committee asked me to remind readers about their open house this weekend.
The police and fire stations will be open for tours to show the current working conditions for emergency personnel. The Public Safety Committee will also answer questions about the proposed combined police and fire complex. That takes place on Saturday, January 21 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.
Now to the update. . .
On Tuesday night, the committee gave selectmen unwelcome news that estimates for building the new complex increased significantly. It’s something they are trying to reverse. And selectmen made clear that costs need to go back down.
In a joint meeting, Chair Al Hamilton informed the Board of Selectmen about the increased estimates. The current estimate is about $23 Million. That’s down from the $25 Million they were alerted to last week. At that time, Hamilton says,
The committee sent consultant and chiefs back to sharpen their pencils and put the building on a diet.
The improved figure is still almost 15% higher than had been discussed over the past year.
Committee member Jason Malinowski characterized discussions about the cost increase as “very preliminary”. He claimed that the architect is shooting from the hip a bit with the new costs. Specific costing out of every wall and every stud is a project that is due the beginning of February. That’s something that could come back with a higher or lower cost.
Selectmen were adamant that it be lower. Selectman John Rooney said that the architects “need to understand that they are not operating with an open checkbook.” He echoed past statements by Hamilton that this project is the “biggest ask” they have ever made of residents that isn’t for the schools.
Malinowski explained that most of the rising estimate is based on inflation. He pointed out that the $20.8 Million estimate had been given before the Town began negotiations with St. Mark’s over land the year before. That delay added 5-6% to the cost. (That does take into account that actual construction wouldn’t begin until 2018.)
Rooney rebutted that the $20.8 was already the highest of the 5 options the committee had presented at the time.
Additional expenses include about $500K resulting from the site change to St. Mark’s Golf Course. Those are for bringing utilities to the site and dealing with wetlands crossings. Though Hamilton claimed those were offset by not needing to temporarily house police and fire while building a new station on the current site.
Malinowski said that other costs included “big ticket items” that the board had yet to discuss and vote on. They still need to refine those and are trying to stick with the originally defined space needs. Selectman Paul Cimino asked if cost savings that Hamilton had suggested were incorporated in the lowered estimate. Hamilton said he didn’t know yet.
The committee was scheduled to meet last night. The main topic was public outreach. But they also planned to discuss cost issues.
Fellow selectmen agreed with Rooney that they need to be firm with the architect about lowering costs. Otherwise they would pursue other options.
No mention was made in the joint meeting of residents working to oppose siting the course at the golf course. (For more on that story from earlier today, click here.)
In addition to this weekend’s tours, the Public Safety Committee will hold a Public Info Session next week. It will take place at the Southborough Library, Thursday January 26th from 7:00 – 8:30 pm.