As the project nears the end of the Schematic Design phase, the Building Committee has spent the past few weeks reviewing refined cost estimates and discussing adjustments to the project budget.
At the February 5 meeting, the Building Committee voted unanimously on a proposed project budget of $291M, a $17M reduction from the preliminary estimate of $308M last summer.
Following are some highlights from the budget discussions.
Initial Schematic Design estimate
The initial Schematic Design estimate presented to the Committee on January 29 was $299M. This estimate was lower than the initial Preferred Schematic Design (PSR) estimate submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in July due to the additional work performed during Schematic Design phase to refine the scope of the project. However, many on the Committee wanted to see the price further reduced without affecting programmatic areas that would affect the Educational Program.
Skanska USA and HMFH Architects were asked to present the Committee with a list of potential Value Engineering items to consider removing from the project. These items were reviewed by the Committee at meetings on January 29, January 31 and February 5, and were also discussed at a School Committee meeting on January 30.
At the end of the discussion, the Building Committee voted to further decrease the budget in the following ways:
Building and Site Attributes
The Committee voted to adjust a few attributes of the project:
- Simplify the amphitheater and Minuteman Bikeway ramp designs
- Accept alternate design concepts for recognizing and re-using historic building elements
- Select alternate facade and interior finishing materials in specific areas of the building and site
Town/School Payroll Department
To achieve the goals of reducing costs and maintaining Payroll at AHS, the Superintendent and Town Manager crafted a unique solution. The accepted plan removes the original space for the Payroll office in the building, reconfigures the district office space to accommodate Payroll personnel, and moves most Payroll storage to Town Hall. This solution achieves continued close collaboration and overlap with the district’s HR and business offices, particularly during the summer and fall when the majority of new staff are hired in the district. This solution also addresses the desire to reduce non-educational spaces in the new facility.
Since the Town has a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) already in place with their supplier Ameresco, budget line items for building sustainability infrastructure were removed from the project since they will be included in the PPA.
Athletic Field Enhancements
As part of the project, the current baseball field will be enlarged to qualify as a varsity baseball field. In addition, the softball field will be reconfigured and new, full size multi-sport practice fields will overlay both outfields.
Additional information on athletic field enhancements was made available after the Schematic Design estimates were performed and the Committee discussed the option of adding artificial turf and lights to the new athletic fields. After much discussion, the Committee voted to make both new fields artificial turf and to add lights. These enhancements will support the AHS Athletics Department by increasing practice field availability. The costs of artificial turf and lighting were not included in the Schematic Design estimate and were added to the budget.
The proposed final budget for the project will be included in the Schematic Design that will be submitted to the MSBA by the end of the month. The MSBA is expected to review and vote on the Schematic Design in mid-April. Assuming MSBA’s acceptance of the Schematic Design, Arlington will have 120 days to secure local funding for the project through a debt exclusion – a temporary increase in taxes to pay for the 30-year debt to pay for a new school. A town-wide debt exclusion vote is planned for June 11.
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