May 2018

Surprising Library Bids Change Plan for Recovery

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Photo by Lester Smith

Highway Foreman Mark Cervione greets hazardous materials abatement contractor personnel arriving at the Kent Memorial Library for the mandatory walk-through prior to bidding on the hazardous materials abatement job.

On March 28, Julie Oakes, Facilities Director of the Public Works Department, issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for remediating the PCB problem at the Kent Memorial Library. Under the direction of the Permanent Building Commission, the RFP had been prepared by their environmental consultant, Bob May of Fuss & O’Neil.

On April 4, seven companies sent representatives to the mandatory walk-through at the library building to evaluate the task. Bids for the work were opened on April 18. The response was a disappointing surprise.

Only two bids were received. The lower was for $1.45 million; the other was for more than $1.6 million. Allowance for contingency and soft costs would bring the total cost close to $2 million. The Town Budget prepared by the Board of Finance for presentation at the upcoming Budget Hearing includes $1 million for the library remediation work.

The RFP was issued digitally on the website of the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services but could be more readily downloaded from the New England Blueprint Paper Company in Springfield. It was a very large document – 712 pages, including ten large drawings. But few, if any of the computer-competent professionals who open it will want a print-out. Only 186 pages were the actual RFP. The remaining 526 pages were an attachment comprising the Fuss and O’Neil March 14 report to the EPA, which included descriptions and detailed results of all the environmental testing done on the building since the new entrance construction and renovation of the old building were essentially complete near the end of 2015. The inclusion of this lengthy appendix in the RFP file was described by one of the commissioners as an expected and useful inclusion, customary for this kind of work.

The PCB and asbestos remediation work described in the RFP is largely the scraping, cleaning, and recoating (for encapsulation) that has been described in earlier articles in the Observer, but this reporter had not been aware of many details of the work that are now described, such as the replacement of caulking in the roof-top monitor windows, the removal of all the parquet-style wood flooring, and the removal of the storage closet at the rear of the auditorium (to improve handicapped accessibility).

At its meeting on March 15, the Permanent Building Commission discussed whether a project manager or clerk of the works should be hired to overview the project, especially now that Department of Public Works Director John Cloonan has been laid off and, except for the Highway Crew reporting to the First Selectman, the department consists only of Facilities Director Oakes and Executive Assistant Linda Zafetti. The newly opened position of Facilities Manager has been advertised.

At the next meeting, on April 19, The Commission considered the bids received. After a short executive session for discussion, the Commission voted unanimously to reject both bids and reissue the RFP with two major changes. The timing of the work would be delayed to avoid the higher costs of the summer, and the contractor would be allowed to use grit blasting instead of mechanical scraping to remove the contaminated coatings. Grit blasting would be cheaper, but messier. How long it will take to prepare the revised RFP was unclear.


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