Greenwich High School’s secure entry project is on hold


GREENWICH – The planned secure vestibule project at Greenwich Secondary School is on hold as the school board weighs the high cost of materials against the need for a safe and accessible entrance.

The board convened for a special meeting, opening with the unfortunate news that bids for the vestibule project came in at around $1.3 million on budget of $2.7 million.

“We certainly appreciate the volatility in the markets – but not to the extent that we’ve seen this project happen. Probably the most notable result is the overall cost per square foot,” building committee chairman Steve Walko said during of the Wednesday evening meeting.

The project architects at Silver Petrucelli and Associates estimated cost of $1,300 per square foot. The lowest bid was $1,900 per square foot.

The two bidders, who have done projects with the city before, allowed the project’s construction committee to see the cost breakdown. Walko and architect David Stein told the council that materials such as aluminum and ballistic glass are now particularly expensive.

Additionally, bids for the window systems were 61% over budget for the vestibule, which Walko says could be described as a “glass box.”

“We don’t think we can build a main entrance to Greenwich High in the scope and sense it’s currently designed for at $2.75 million. Even in construction numbers, a major overhaul would be required or, alternatively, additional funding,” he said.

The school board was not ready to ask the Board of Estimate & Taxation for more money for the project. He has two options left: wait for the market to stabilize or revise downwards his pedagogical specifications which set the direction of the project.

There are indications market intensity will level off, Stein said, but he couldn’t predict when contractors might have more time to complete projects.

Bidders have offered work periods of 365 days and 420 days, but the typical duration for this type of project is about half, Stein said.

Walko said he was confident the building committee could stay on budget if the school board reduced instructional specifications to focus on safety and eliminated aspects of making the space identifiable as the main entrance to the school. school.

“If you were to eliminate the notion of a main entrance and order us to build a secure vestibule that would only have access to the administrative wing, but only after they had been checked…my feeling is that we could build this to a very high quality within budget,” he said.

The school district would have to reapply for the state reimbursement grant if instructional specifications change, said Christina Downey, a school board member and building committee liaison.

“Initially, this whole project was really about prioritizing the security of the main entrance. I’m thinking of going back and thinking about it and prioritizing that, although we would all like a nice entrance, safety is the priority here,” said board member Michael-Joseph Mercanti-Anthony.

The current main entrance does not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. The design would allow people in wheelchairs to access the entrance.

“I really want to make sure that safety and accessibility is first and foremost on our minds. I just don’t want to take all that work and see it undone when the landscape of materials and cost may be completely different in a few months,” board member Laura Kostin said, asking if the board could wait six months and reevaluate.

Board member Karen Kowalski focused on Central Middle School and Old Greenwich School, which are due for bigger plans soon.

“At this point, I think the number of projects we have and the things that need to be done, I would be interested in tabling this whole project for the foreseeable future until things change and we can get a better handle on the expenses,” she said.

The board has not decided whether to rework the specifications or wait for better market conditions. He agreed to discuss his options at a scheduled private meeting regarding school safety.

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