Proposed Town Hall & School Admin Building Estimated To Cost $37.3 Million; OPM & Committee To Work On Reducing Budget

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington’s Town Hall/School Administration Building project is currently estimated to cost more than $37 million, OPM Dan Pallotta told the Building Committee at its meeting earlier this month.

“We’re basically looking at an ask of $37,305.766,” said Pallotta, who offered both a dose of optimism and realism. “This number represents the worst case scenario… We see nothing that’s going to be adjusted up, only adjusted down… We will present you with some value engineering options at the next meeting. But I don’t want you to think it’s going to go so far down that you’ll be doing cartwheels, because it’s not.”

Pallotta agreed with Committee Chair George Hooper that the project’s square footage cost — $681 per square foot — came in higher than anticipated. Pallotta was originally expecting around $620.

“I wish it was 5 years ago,” Pallotta told the Committee, who noted cost estimates also came in high on three recent school building projects he is familiar with. Pallotta added that the project’s budget includes a 7.9% escalation for inflation and approximately 5% ($1.59 million) in contingencies.

If the project is approved at Special Town Meeting on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at Wilmington High, the project would likely go out to bid in September or October of 2023. Construction would likely last 16 months.

The Committee discussed how to fund the $180,000 worth of equipment Wilmington Community Television would need in the new building to film meetings. Chair George Hooper will work with WCTV to determine what portion of these costs WCTV can cover on its own. The project’s budget does currently cover the wiring for the equipment.

Pallotta will provide an updated budget to the Committee at its next meeting on Wednesday, September 28. He promised to massage the budget, go through it with “a fine-tooth comb,” and present some cost-saving options.

Other Business

While the bulk of the meeting dealt with cost estimates, Pallotta also informed the Committee that the project’s geotech report will be finalized a day or two after the meeting. Pallotta reminded the group that there is some ledge in the rear of the building and the budget calls for 1,000 yards of ledge removal. The report’s findings will not necessitate the building’s proposed location to be moved.

Building Committee member Diane Allan asked Town Manager Jeff Hull if a reuse committee would eventually be formed, like recently done in Tewksbury, to determine what will happen to the current Senior Center building, the current Town Hall building, and the Roman House, if the building projects are approved by the voters.

“We’d convene some sort of committee to evaluate the best options for the Buzzell, Town Hall and Roman House,” responded Hull. “I wouldn’t anticipate anything happening immediately with those buildings.”

While not in the committee’s purview, Allan noted that these types of questions will likely be asked on Town Meeting floor.

Another question that may be asked is: Could the school administration moved into the Buzzell Senior Center building if the Senior Center project is approved, but the Town Hall/School Administration Building project is not?

“I’m not sure you can renovate the Buzzell and bring it up to code,” responded Pallotta. “It has a fieldstone foundation. You’re not going to pass seismic code with that.”

The Committee is in conversation with WCTV to produce informational videos of the projects. Town Manager Jeff Hull will also provide a project update in his next Town Topics newsletter.

The Committee agreed to postpone its next meeting from Wednesday, September 21 to Wednesday, September 28, to accommodate school officials who have a School Committee Meeting on September 21.

Watch the 1-hour meeting, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, HERE.

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