April 28, 2009

New schools may be built sooner rather than later

Hoping to save money on construction costs, officials are eyeing a faster timetable for completion of two new schools in Bristol. But it’s an idea that may not pass muster with the mayor.

Because contractors are desperate for work, officials said, the price tag for public buildings has come down sharply in recent months, opening the door to potential savings by speeding up the $132 million project to construct two kindergarten to eighth grade buildings.

“We think it’s appropriate to try to take advantage of that,” said John Smith, a Board of Finance member who serves on the West Bristol School Building Committee.

Current plans call for finishing the new schools in 2015, with the bulk of the construction work carried out in the last couple of years before the doors open. That timetable was set to push off costs for as long as possible.

Mayor Art Ward said he doubts the money will be available to shorten the construction schedule.

“They need to be mindful of the economic conditions,” Ward said. “It’s time for heed rather than haste.”

William Smyth, the acting assistant superintendent for business, said that the weak economy has driven down the cost of construction.

“It’s a good opportunity for the city to realize savings,” Smyth said.

Roger Rousseau, the city’s purchasing agent, said there is an opportunity “to take advantage” of the lower prices to help out taxpayers who will foot the bill.

Smith said that bids on municipal projects around the state are coming in at least 8 to 15 percent lower than expected in recent weeks because of the intense competition for the work from firms that are struggling to find business

“The city’s going to save some money” if it acts more quickly to do the bulk of the project, Smith said.

Rousseau said the more the city can do soon, the more it will help hold down costs in the long-term.

At best, the city could not start most of the construction until 2011 – and even that is problematic given the difficulty Bristol has had in securing both locations for the schools.

It has cut a deal for the former Crowley property on Pine Street to house one of the buildings, but officials are still negotiating with property owners for the other parcel eyed for a school on Matthews Street.

The state, which would pay 73.9 percent of the tab, has told the city it has to start the work by June 2010 or it could lose the state aid. Officials are angling for an extension,

Both the Forestville and West Bristol school building committees threw out construction manager bids based on the existing timetable. Members said the positions would be bid again with the tighter construction schedule.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

Does Mayor Ward understand anything?

Anonymous said...

Obviously better than you do.

Anonymous said...


Please tell me just when the local taxpayers would have to start paying for the overall reduced cost of the scholls?

Certainly isn't in the coming budget, more than likely not in the next.

Just when?

Anonymous said...

First and foremost keep William Smith, Tom O'Brien out of the mix,if my memory serves me correct Bristol Central and Eastern high schools cost 40 million plus for renovations. The bonding issue is still not resolved, still no solution. This same crew wants to inject themselves into the mix as construction experts. They already went through over a dozen construction companies put it out to bid and when their buddies didn't win threw the bids out.
Anyone in construction will tell you fast track construction on a design build basis is a very expensive way to build. I guarantee O'Brien buddies will get fat on change orders. Steve if the Press ever wants to be taken seriously you should take on OB. Rumor on the street is the fix for KBE is in , they have OBrien in their pocket do they have you too Steve?

Anonymous said...

I woukd like to know if this is the same Scotty that was in charge during the mess at Chippens Hill School, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Ivy Drive and Mountian View. After all these years these buildings still have major construction issues. I don't think this city employee should advise anybody

Steve Collins said...

What's KBE? It always helps me to know whose pocket I'm in.

Anonymous said...

Steve a good local reporter reports local news KBE I think stand for the old Konover Construction .They changed their name similiar to what Enron, AIG and Blackwater did.
I think it really means Known Bad Element lol

Steve Collins said...

Since the project won't go out to bid for at least a year, how am I supposed to know if the fix is in? What would I look for? How would anyone be able to prove it?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

(1) bond rates are down, so the cost to borrow money is low. (2) Contractors are hungry so the cost to build is low. (3) We need to begin construction now to lock in the high reimbursement rate (74%) that the state has promised but could rescind if we dawdle. (4) Large construction jobs puts wages in the pockets of local construction workers.

So, other than his usual generalities, what reason does Ward give to keep this project on the slow track? Nothing. The real reason: he would have to EXPLAIN something complicated to the voters.

Steve Collins said...

I'm not afraid of O'Brien. Should I be?

Anonymous said...

6:55 and we know that Ward doesn't understand the issue, so he really can't explain it.

Anonymous said...

Its time to start over with this process of school contruction the Mayor should disband the two building committees and start over again this whole process is a disaster waiting to happen all over again its time for the city of Bristol to get it right mayor Ward its time to lead and bring in some fresh blood into the process. The time is now to rid ourselfs of the people who have failed us in the past.

late acheiver said...

8:08 - it's about the money - stuoid.

Anonymous said...


Then why is Ward against saving money for the taxpayers?

Reduced construction costs = lower taxpayer cost.

What is the problem with that?

Anonymous said...

no mega schools!!!!

Anonymous said...

Where is the so-called fiscal conservative councilman Cockayne on this new school project??? The only time we hear anything from him is if is a city union issue.
Why doesn't he complain about Bristol's spending like he does about the union wages? He has the nerve to say he isn't anti-union but pro-taxpayer...what a joke.
We can only hope the citizens in his district see him for who he really is come election time.

Anonymous said...

Most of our spending issues can be attributed to our union contracts. Nearly 70% of our budget expenditures are on salary and benefits. I'd say that is an issue. Cockayne and the Republicans aren't complaining that the unions are at fault - it's quite the opposite. The unions are doing their jobs and union leaders are doing their jobs very well, getting the most money and best benefits for their workers. They are complaining that city leaders haven't fought to keep wages in check, or negotiated more reasonable contracts, all in the name of getting votes and support from the unions. Can't blame the unions, but we certainly can blame the city leaders.

Anonymous said...

No new schools!!!
No new schools!!!
No new schools!!!