Massena project forging ahead

The autumn weather isn’t stopping outside activity for the Massena Central School District’s capital project. Phase one work for the project is wrapping up. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The autumn weather isn’t stopping outside activity for the Massena Central School District’s capital project.

In an update to the district’s Board of Education, James Francesconi said that phase one roofing work at the district’s three elementary schools was slightly behind schedule, but that the majority of the work is projected to be done by the end of October.

Mr. Francesconi is the senior project manager for C&S Companies, the district’s construction management firm.

“Are we behind that the weather is potentially an issue?” board President Paul Haggett asked.

Mr. Francesconi said there was no impact. Robert Gray, from C&S Companies, said contractors were outside working that day despite the rain.

“That’s the aspect right now,” he said.

Once the roofing work is complete, there will be a final inspection for the 30-year warranty.

“Site work is on schedule. We’ve already begun punch list activities in phase one. I’ve been actively involved in that,” Mr. Francesconi said.

He said all contracts are scheduled to be complete with everything by the end of November.

“We’re trying to close the books by the end of the year, so we’re targeting the end of (November) for that,” he said.

“The contractors have officially reached substantial completion, which means that it does initiate the punch list process, and that’s what we’ve begun,” said Edward Bernhauer, an architect for the IBI Group, the district’s architectural firm.

He said that as they close out phase one of the project, they are now seeing remaining change orders to close out the contracts so the final cost reports can be submitted to the state Education Department.

“We’re in the process of that now,” he said.

Mr. Bernhauer said they typically want to be “in the realm of 4% of the construction value for change orders.”

“That’s kind of a comfortable event. A lot of times these projects, especially one this large, there are some unforeseen things that might pop up that you would have a change order for. So we usually want to stay within that 4%,” he said. “What we did, though, just to be safe, is we planned for a 10% contingency that we set aside for our phase one.”

“The thing that’s really exciting for us to report is that we are currently at 0.3% for our change orders, so we’ve actually had a very successful phase one when it comes to additional work,” Mr. Bernhauer said. “Most of the additional work that we’ve had really is kind of unforeseen conditions that have popped up on site. So, it’s been really good sailing for phase one, and we’re financially in very good shape there.”

Phase two of the project, which began this summer, was “primarily on schedule,” Mr. Francesconi said. Among the projects taking place, kitchen and cafeteria work at Jefferson Elementary School started at the beginning of October and is expected to be completed at the end of December. Kitchen and cafeteria work at Madison Elementary School is expected to begin in January, while the kitchen and cafeteria work at Nightengale Elementary School is targeted to start in April.

“We’re not going to move into the kitchen at Madison until the kitchen at Jefferson is turned over. I just want to make that clear indication that they’re not going to be completed at the same time,” he said.

In schools where work is taking place in different wings, the contractors are coordinating their movements with the building principals.

“We are using the drawings of each building footprint as a communication tool for contractors and the district,” Mr. Francesconi said.

Mr. Bernhauer said architectural approval has been granted for phase three, which will begin in 2022. The engineering review and project manager’s review are still in progress.

“We anticipate once we get our SED approval, you’ll be able to go out on the street and go into bid, and then we anticipate opening early in December for bid opening, which will put us in really good shape for getting the contractors on board and ordering materials for construction starting in June 2022,” he said.

He said work may actually start earlier.

“That’s kind of our main target date for starting,” Mr. Bernhauer said. “However, if things go well, we are working with the district and all of the administrators to potentially advance that construction and see if there are some areas that we might be able to begin a bit earlier, just to relieve some of that summer month pressure and some of the transition pressure that we’ll be seeing during the construction while the buildings are occupied.”

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