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North Window Project Price Spikes, Set for Town Meeting Vote

Board of Selectmen members said the project must be approved for a second straight year at Town Meeting because of the cost increase.

Town officials still hope to complete the window replacement project at North Intermediate School. But to do so, the project will have to be approved by voters for a second straight year.

After residents approved the funding of the project during the 2012 Annual Town Meeting, selectmen learned at Monday night’s meeting that the cost estimate came in significantly higher than the number approved by voters.

According to Tony Sievers of Diversified Project Management, there are several reasons for the cost difference for the project, which would be partially funded by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

One of the major factors is that the estimates were based on the window replacement project done at Shawsheen Elementary School. The town received a price far below market value for that project and as a result cost projections were off by a wide margin.

“We came to the conclusion that you had an unbelievable price at Shawsheen,” said Sievers. “Everything came to your benefit with that project. You got a cost well before market value at that time. The contractor was very hungry, willing to take the project at the lower price so they could keep their people going. If you set that as your benchmark, you can see why you would have a difference.”

Rather than the approximately $800,000 approved by voters last year, the town will have to come up with about $1.5 million for the project. About half of that total will be reimbursed.

Board of Selectmen chairman Mike Newhouse said the town’s net cost for the project will be about $740,645. But the town must raise the cost of the entire project before it can be approved for MSBA reimbursement, thus it must be voted on again at Town Meeting.

“There’s no getting around the fact that the price has increased dramatically,” said Newhouse. “But the reality is that the appropriation from May 2012 will be sufficient to pay for the project.”

The MSBA approval required to be completed this year to remain eligible, but the organization is willing to work with the town if they can receive approval from voters.

According to Sievers, the town must provide demonstration that it has the funds within 90 days of a January 30 MSBA review meeting. Though the May 4 Annual Town Meeting comes beyond that deadline, the MSBA said it would still meet its guidelines.

If voters approve the project again this year, construction would likely be completed in the summer months of 2014.

“If we don’t do anything, we’ll still have a need for windows and doors and the price is only going to go up. The dollar that you don’t spend today becomes more expensive tomorrow,” said selectman Judy O’Connell. “Regardless of this unfortunate news, I don’t see any stance other than to support this project.”

Kevin MacDonald January 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM
The Town has over eleven million dollars in the bank. I hope people start to ask: where did that money come from? Quite simply it came mostly from the tax payers. People should be asking the question: Why are town meeting articles being over budgeted? Is it so banker buddies of town officials can stuff their banks and their wallets while hard working Wilmington tax payers get hammered in taxes? Mr. Newhouse and Mr. Cimaglia should be totally ashamed of themselves they way they have led the Board of Selectmen. My opinion of this Board is that it is the worst in the history of this town and there have been some pretty pathetic ones. Why should we trust this project management company? I believe their contract did not have to go out for competitive bid on the State's Central register. Mr. Newhouse's comment that there is no way of getting around the fact that the price has increased dramatically probably stems from the fact that he is without a clue and doesn't know how to save the town money. Here's the way you do it; You put contracts out for COMPETITIVE BID ON THE CENTRAL REGISTER and notify as many project managers and window contractors that you could possibly find. This to inform them that it will be getting advertised on the Central Register and when it will go on the REGISTER. An advertisement in a lot of news papers would help also. It would have also helped if town officials hired an architect to head up the Public Buildings Dept. instead of an electrician.
Penny D January 17, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Kevin, It's called Mass. General Laws Chapter 30, it's called RFP's, it's called IFB's, IT DOES NOT NEED TO GO ON CENTRAL REGISTER!
Kevin MacDonald January 17, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Everybody realizes that Penny. The point is that I do not believe our Town Officials know what they are doing. Just because it does not have to go on the CENTRAL REGISTER doesn't mean we can not go on it. We need REAL leadership. This Board is a disaster. How much do the tax payers have to tolerate? End the nonsense!!!
webmom January 17, 2013 at 01:48 PM
I don't know the steps needed, but does it take a lot of work to do an RFP? If it doesn't, it couldn't hurt. The economy is still not in great shape, and there may be another low bid that could come in. "The contractor was very hungry, willing to take the project at the lower price "....It's a solid job with guaranteed pay, I'd bet there would be some contractors looking for job like that.
Penny D January 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Webmom, http://www.mass.gov/ig/publications/manuals/30bmanl.pdf This will explain what a community needs to do for bidding contracts. Look at Chapter 5.
Stacie January 17, 2013 at 04:33 PM
"There was a little bit of apples and oranges," said Tony Sievers of the Newton-based Diversified Project Management. "Although they're both schools and they both have windows, there's different types of window systems and different types of conditions between buildings." A key difference is that the North School windows are shorter pieces of glass, going across the building in a longer, two-level band, making for a more expensive installation than the large, vertical windows at Shawsheen.
Kevin MacDonald January 18, 2013 at 12:40 AM
The North Intermediate school windows are ugly. The Shawsheen windows are much better looking. Why should ugly windows be replaced with ugly windows. The comments by the Diversified Project Management rep. were a joke to anyone that knows construction. We NEED LEADERSHIP and COMPETENCE !!!!!!!!!!!!! until then tax payer dollars will continue to go down the toilet.

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