Town Hall Renovation Begins

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Project contractor Gilbane’s schedule for the Town Hall listed “Mobilize on Site” for July 6, and in fact there was a bit of activity, with a few cars on site that day. During the following week, a large office trailer was delivered and set up at the west end of the parking lot by the skate park, and later several large trash containers arrived. Flags and markings for buried utilities have appeared. A surveyor established key reference points outside.

Unlike projects that can entertain a “sidewalk superintendent” or satisfy a curious reporter, most of the activity of this project will be hidden from outsiders’ view, so the Observer may have little to report except the construction of the new vault in the rear at ground level, attached to the new Town Clerk’s office (the former Selectmen’s Meeting Room). Excavation for its footings was scheduled to start on July 10, but digging hadn’t begun by the Observer’s July 15 deadline. Suffield Facilities Manager Chris Matejek assures the Observer that a slow start is common in projects like this and should not affect the schedule for completion by the end of the year.

 On July 14, three key officials, First Selectman Melissa Mack, Permanent Building Commission (PBC) Chairman Joe Sangiovanni, and Facilities Manager Matejek, gathered by the front door with the Town’s golden shovels for a photo at a symbolic ground breaking. They discussed this final resolution of the extended planning for the building’s needed renovation. Then they left without dirtying their shovels.

The next evening at the Board of Selectmen’s virtual meeting, the matter of how the PBC would function during the project – how much authority they would have – was discussed. Town Attorney Derek Donnelly was asked to prepare a document on the topic. And on the evening of July 16, the PBC’s virtual meeting discussed the completed document, which made clear that the PBC’s role would be advisory. Decisions costing no more than $1,000 could be made by the contractor. Changes could be authorized by Facilities Manager Matejek, with First Selectman Mack’s okay, up to $5,000. Beyond that, the First Selectman and Finance Director Debbie Cerrato would decide. PBC Chairman Sangiovanni said he felt that procedure would work well.

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