Joint Building Committee eyes June 1 for start of $1.8-million school project

LACONIA — The Joint Building Committee established for the oversight of the $1.828-million school renovation bond met for the first time yesterday and set the potential construction start date of the project as June 1 for preliminary work, with the end of school date for major construction.

The committee determined that Rist, Frost, Shumway would engineer and design the project while Harvey Construction would be the construction manager. The committee hopes component bid documents will be ready for bid on April 23. They are due back on May 16.

The cost of the project is $1.828 million that will be primarily spent on installing a sprinkler system for the portion of the building not sprinkled during last year's Huot Technical Center Renovation and replacing the air handling units for the interior wall classrooms, the library, and the auditorium.

The money is being made available by a Quality Zone Academy Building federal no-interest loan made available to the Laconia School District through the N.H. Department of Education.

School District Administrator Ed Emond said yesterday that as far as sprinkling the portion of the building not done as part of the Huot Technical Center renovation, the glass windows between the east portion of the old building and older portion of the Huot Technical Center are not compliant with current fire codes.

The windows represent what was the outside back of the school when it was first built. The first Huot Center wrapped around the old school but the windows were kept in place so the classrooms, which have no outside exposure, along that interior wall could get some air.

Emond and engineer Chad Montrose said that after meeting with Chief Ken Erickson and Fire Inspector Charlie Roffo yesterday morning, they recommended contacting the N.H. Fire Marshal before moving forward with the engineering.

Montrose said one idea is to create an emergency water wall, meaning that a bank of sprinklers would release during a fire that would allow students to escape through what is the main entrance.

The problem is the glass is not smooth nor is it fire resistant and, in the event of a fire, it could shatter into one the main egresses from the north portion of the school.

Other options discussed at yesterday meeting included replacing some or all of the windows with fireproof sheet rock or replacing the glass with a fire resistant glass.

Montose said the board should delay any decision until they get the approximate costs of each option. JBC members also wanted to tour the area with the fire personnel as well.

The second portion of the construction project calls for replacing the air-handling units for the library, the interior classrooms and the auditorium. Montose and Emond said replacing the air-handling unit for the gymnasium will not be possible because there is not enough money.

The JBC gave Montose the okay to solicit bids for the replacement units as soon as possible because there is a lead time of six to eight weeks to get them to the site.

The committee also set what they hope is the final budget. The total amount available is $1.828-million with $1.438-million for the construction and $61,500 for the construction management fee.

The owner's contingency is set at $90,000 or about 6-percent of the total budget, furniture and fixtures is set a $14,000, the architect and engineering fee is $124,000 or 7.75 percent, and $100,000 is earmarked for costs associated with bonding and legal fees.

The project completion date is targeted for Aug. 20 when teachers return to the school.

The next JBC meeting is scheduled for April 23 at 4 p.m. at Harvard Street School. No date has been set for the fire officials joint with members of the JBC.

As with the most recent JBC – the co-chairs are City Councilor Bob Hamel and School Board member Joe Cormier.