Additional $336k needed to move power lines, finish Darien cafeteria expansion
DARIEN — School officials have decided to move and rebury the electrical line delaying the Darien High School cafeteria renovation project, but it will cost them.
The Board of Education’s Cafeteria Building Committee said Friday an additional $336,000 would be needed to complete the $1.6 million project that was supposed to be underway in early April.
The Building Committee voted in favor of requesting the money from the town. The Board of Finance, which was supposed to meet on Tuesday but whose meeting was canceled due to weather, must now approve an appropriation
“We’re trying to keep construction in one primary academic season,” said Building Committee Chairman and Board of Education member Jill McCammon, after a recent meeting of the latter. “This is not an expansion of the cafeteria project, it’s an increase in scope.”
According to McCammon, even before the power line was discovered and work was delayed, the project was expected to carry over from summer into fall. McCammon said the goal is to begin the removal of the power line after graduation and hopefully have it completed by the end of July. The renovation of the existing cafeteria space would be scheduled for completion in mid-August, with the construction of the extension to hopefully wrap in mid-November. Before the hiccup, construction had been slated to end before the first day of school.
McCammon informed the Board of Selectmen in early April that, a week after ground was broken on the project, a power line was discovered running to the school. The discovery interrupted the project’s goal of bringing the 338-seat cafeteria up to 420 seats and three options were presented. The contractors could work around the power line and the size of the expansion could be slightly reduced. A temporary cantilever could be built over the power line to allow the full expansion and the line could be moved shortly thereafter. Or the cafeteria could be built as planned and power line could be excavated and moved a safe distance from the school before building starts.
The committee decided to go with the third option.
Hard costs for the project represent $276,067, soft costs are an estimated $15,567, a tie-in allowance to account for overruns in the $1.6 million project, resulting from the delay, are budgeted at $25,000, with a seven percent contingency at $19,324.
The tie-in figure drew some dissent from the group. Building Committee and Board of Finance member James Palin made a motion to remove the $25,000 from the ask on the grounds that the education board was asking the town for money it wasn’t sure it would need. Palin’s motion did not gain, traction, however.
“You need to push that contingency up to protect you from the ‘unforeseens,’” suggested Superintendent of Schools Dan Brenner.
At print time, the Board of Finance had not rescheduled its meeting. But they will have the opportunity to approve or deny the appropriation in total or approve or deny by line item.
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