More money allocated to the Music Palace at GHS, now budgeted at $46 million and climbing, from its original budget of $28.
The Board of Education on Thursday approved a request for an additional $2.37 million in contingency funds for the construction of the new performing arts complex at Greenwich High School, a move that responds to cost overruns produced by an unforeseen scope of environmental remediation work and construction delays.
[Joe Ross, Building Committee Chairman] acknowledged that the remediation needed to address contaminated soil in the MISA footprint has exceeded Building Committee members’ expectations.
“The types of contaminated soil that we had were in different areas, they were in larger areas than we thought, and they were at different elevations,” Ross said.
“There is more and deeper contaminated soil on the site than we originally thought?” board member Peter Sherr asked.
“That’s correct,” Ross replied.
MISA’s fiscal challenges are stark. The project started with a total contingency of $3.8 million, including a $500,000 allocation for unforeseen environmental costs. So far, the Building Committee has approved $1.7 million of change orders, representing 45 percent of the total contingency, according to a Building Committee report to the school board. Of that amount, $1.3 million relates to environmental costs and $360,000 goes to other parts of the project.
But the Building Committee also forecasts another $1.16 million in potential change orders — although some of them might not be carried out — as well as $400,000 in additional construction manager or “soft” costs.
At the last count, MISA’s total construction costs were estimated at about $43.7 million. Adding another $2.37 million would raise that total to $46.1 million.
Ross also reported that the cofferdam surrounding the orchestra pit is now holding off major leakage. The cofferdam has required reinforcements in response to significant seepage in recent months. [emphasis added]
School board members also pondered what challenges could emerge during the next planned construction phase — demolition of the current auditorium and construction of instructional music spaces in that footprint.
“Is that a concern of yours, that when we start digging in the instructional space, we’re going to find more surprises?” Adriana Ospina asked.
“There has been little environmental testing by us, because it was an active auditorium, so for me to say that we’ve tested and that there’s no evidence of that wouldn’t be correct,” Ross responded.
Just for fun, here’s an op-ed from the BOE members in 2012, when the cost of MISA was still (sic) estimated at $34 million (original 2008 estimate, $28 million) compared to today’s $46:’MISA Is Not a Money Pit’
Greenwich Board of Education op-ed outlines reasons why Greenwich HS MISA project should stay on track.
There are five powerful reasons for moving forward with MISA, the GHS Music Instructional Space and Auditorium project at the high school, specifically:
The support for MISA is large and widespread, going beyond the traditional school community.
- It is time to fix the undersized and substandard facilities that have hampered the high school since its initial construction. The current facilities do not meet the educational needs of our students and are smaller than recommended by state standards.
- RTM approval does not initiate spending. The BET has conditioned their approval so any spending will require approval by the BET. Additionally, if project bids exceed the funded amounts (of $33,815,000 total project cost before state reimbursement, which could be as high as $4.9 million, and $1.2 million in private donor contributions), the project would need to return to the RTM for approval before contracts are signed.Here Here the facts underlying each of these issues:
… MISA is not a “money pit,” as some have called it. There is a system of checks and balances for this project. The Building Committee has identified and estimated environmental costs related to its construction. These estimates are based on good information on the type and amount of contamination. Going out to bid will allow the true costs of the project to be better understood. The bids we receive will be most competitive if the funding is not phased. Once firm bids are received, the Building Committee is required to review the total project cost with the BET prior to the release of any construction funds. If the project costs exceed the appropriation, the Building Committee would need to seek an interim appropriation from the BOE, BET and RTM.
… We look forward to taking this project to the next step after four years of careful planning and vetting of the MISA project.
Greenwich Board of Education members:
- Steven Anderson
- Jennifer Dayton
- Nancy Kail
- Leslie Moriarty
- Barbara O’Neill
- Adriana Ospina
- Peter Sherr
- Peter von Braun