June 11, 2009

City hires two architects to design a pair of new schools

More than six months after school building committees picked architects to design two new schools, city councilors have endorsed the picks.

Though the contracts won’t be signed until the city completes the purchase of property on Matthews Street eyed for one of the 900-student schools, officials expect the deal to go through within a couple of weeks.

Councilors agreed to hire the Hartford firm of Tai Soo Kim, Partners and Architects for $2.14 million to draw up the detailed plans necessary to move ahead with the school slated for construction on the former Crowley dealership site on Pine Street.

The Massachusetts-based Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. was tapped for the West Bristol school. It will earn $1.8 million for its work.

Superintendent Philip Streifer said the school building panels each thought it best to hire different firms for the two projects, on the assumption that it would be best to have a firm focused on a single school.

City Councilor Mike Rimcoski, who serves on the Forestville School Building Committee, was the only councilor to vote against either architect.

Rimcoski renewed his plea for colleagues to award the Forestville contract to DRA as well because it would cost taxpayers $350,000 less.

With the economy struggling and a new fiscal year about to begin, he said, “I don’t think we’re starting out right by blowing through $350,000” for no good reason.

Ken Cockayne, the only other Republican councilor, said he would normally agree with Rimcoski but in this case, he said, councilors should take the advice of the committee members who actually slogged through the many applications from different firms.

Councilor Kevin McCauley said the Crowley site for the Forestville school offers a unique challenge because Greene-Hills School and Peck Park are next door and must continue operating during the construction period. That takes expertise, he said, that Tai Soo Kim offers.

Rimcoski said he plans to use the council’s votes against hiring DRA for both projects to his advantage during the municipal election campaign this year.

DRA was not the low bidder on the West Bristol site either, officials said, so they’re not sure why Rimcoski favored it there.

 Deadline waived

With a push from state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat, the state Department of Education has told city officials that the June 2010 deadline for beginning construction on the new schools can be waived.

Nicastro said the city merely has to ask for the waiver and it will get it.

Superintendent Philip Streifer said the extra time will help.

“With all these pieces falling together, we’ll be in very good shape,” Streifer said.

 

About the school project
Cost: $132 million
Two new K-8 schools sought
Closing:  Memorial Boulevard Middle School and Greens-Hills, O’Connell and Bingham elementary schools.
Projected completion


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

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Rimshot did vote for the architect in the West End. He did not vote for the one in Forestville.

Steve Collins said...

The wording could have been more clear, but I wrote that Rimcoski wanted DRA hired for Forestville "as well."

Anonymous said...

another big waste of money once again the people have no say have a vote on these new schools let the taxpayers decide if they should be built or not. i for sure would vote no

Anonymous said...

5:51 I'm sure you would vote no. It's pretty obvious that education is low on your list of priorities. Pity.

Anonymous said...

Re: 5:51 AM comment

You did have a "say." It's called the last election or the one before that one or .....

Odin said...

"another big waste of money once again the people have no say have a vote on these new schools let the taxpayers decide if they should be built or not. i for sure would vote no"

Sorry, but you're full of beans. Last November the voters re-elected EVERY member of the Board of Education who supports these two new schools. The people HAD a chance to "vote" on the new schools, and the people voted "yes". Grow up and accept reality.

Poboy said...

If you want to know why the municipal budget is in jeopardy look no further. Striefer got his way, his puddle jumping career is intact as long as these projects are still alive.
Mark my words, this self serving bureaucratic slug will be on to bigger and better things as soon as these unneeded projects are completed. The trail of slime he leaves will be in the form of higher taxes, lost jobs and reduced services. Shame on him and his supporters.

Anonymous said...

The budget is in trouble because the city officials do not have a clue as to whet is going on.

THEY gave Streiffer what they wanted to give him, they failed o take into account the overall finacial situation starting some time back.

Look no further than Ward, Kloko and Mize for the guilty!

Anonymous said...

Re: Poboy's comments

You could be correct but the children of the school district will be better off. If I subscribed to your theory of never moving on, Lincoln would have remained a country lawyer, Truman a haberdasher and Obama a state representative. Well, I would have been fine with the last one.

Anonymous said...

Rimcoski's family and fellow party members should really find a way to ease him out of public life gracefully while there is a still of chance of it.

Concerned Conservative said...

Sorry Odin, once again the one full of beans is you. Everyone knows the election of BOE members is a joke. No election since the board was changed to elected has been anything but all six Democrats and Republicans taking only the three charter-mandated minority party spots.
This project has been shoved down the people's throats. Our founding fathers would shutter if they saw this roughshod treatment of the citizens by our city government. This project is a travesty. The whole scheme is poorly planned. The people may have very well voted this down had it come to a referendum. And if they didn't, so be it. Ignoring the obscene costs the location of the new school on the western "territory" of town is a debacle. And please stop the "if you're not for this you're not for education' garbage. This is about school-administration-empire-building and social justice for the welfare class mush more than improving education.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Honestly,

The problem with these school's has never been the money. If the money was used instead to "build up" existing buildings, classrooms, teachers, whatever there would probably be many people in favor of it.

The problem is that the idea of creating a 900 plus elementary and middle school combined is troubling to people. How many years have people complained about the size of New Britain High, for example?

Also, media reports for almost a decade has said "smaller is better." And when the classic response by the board of education to any public questioning is "how dare you challenge the experts," should people really be surprised when there is so much opposition to these new schools?

Anonymous said...

9:36

But then where would collins get all those classic comments to put in his articles?

over and over said...

again, these schools will be a seperate elementary school and a seperate middle school sharing the same grounds.

Poboy said...

"Superintendent Philip Streifer said the school building panels each thought it best to hire different firms for the two projects, on the assumption that it would be best to have a firm focused on a single school."

This is a foolish statement on several levels. For one thing , what makes Streifer think that these are the only projects the companies are working on? Secondly, now the city will have to deal with two separate companies once construction starts, probably having to hire two separate clerks of the works and all sorts of other redundancies. Add this to the extra initial expense and top it all off with the fact that two mega schools are unneeded and you realize what a fiasco this self serving empty suit has gotten us into.

Anonymous said...

Rimcoski is wrong. Having DRA design both projects would have necessarily meant that one project wouldn't have gotten DRA's A-team. That's what the whole architect selection process is about: picking the most qualified architect that will give you its best team on the project. Clearly, if DRA is giving the city its best team on the West End school project, it can't do so on the Forestville project, as well. It was a good decision to put Tai Soo Kim on the Forestville project for this reason.
Also, Steve was good to put this in context. These are $100+ Million dollar projects that will be mostly paid for by the State DOE. A couple of hundred thou at the design level is really peanuts, when you thik about it.

Anonymous said...

In addition to my comment at 9:29, I'd also like to say that, although I don't usually agree with Councilor Cockayne on most issues, I think he was correct to say that the architect selection committees had the best, first hand knowledge of what the different firms were offering to the city, and that it was appropriate for him to defer to their decision to choose Tai Soo Kim on the Forestville project.

If Rimcoski had a real objection to the selection committee's decision, he should have articulated it better at the city council meeting. His comment had no teeth to begin with, and he looked even less credible when he expressly stated that he would use this issue as a political tool in his reelection campaign.

Anonymous said...

whers the balance of the money coming from. We dont need the schools. School board wins again. This is why we need edcuated people in office.

Poboy said...

"These are $100+ Million dollar projects that will be mostly paid for by the State DOE."

Where do you think DOE gets the money, thin air? Fed state or local, this money comes out of the taxpayer pocket. It is not being spent wisely.

Poboy said...

"Rimcoski is wrong. Having DRA design both projects would have necessarily meant that one project wouldn't have gotten DRA's A-team"

What makes you think we got the "A" team on the Forestville project? You think we are the only customer this company has? What a silly thing to say.