Northport approved to hire construction manager for school renovation

By Ben Holbrook | Dec 15, 2015

Northport — Northport is moving forward with plans to hire a construction manager for a $3 million renovation of Edna Drinkwater School after receiving state approval earlier this month.

The town was planning to hire a contractor for the project through a competitive bidding process. However, during a special meeting in November, school committee members considered hiring a construction manager to oversee the project.

Stephen Blatt, of of South Portland-based Stephen Blatt Architects, explained some of the advantages of hiring a construction manager as opposed to bidding the project. With a construction manager, school officials would have the opportunity to interview candidates and learn more about their qualifications. The town can be clear on the available budget for the project and address any potential funding issues before any construction begins.

One of the concerns raised at the November meeting was that the school would be under construction while occupied by students and staff. If the project went to competitive bid, school officials were concerned the low bidder awarded the work would not be as prepared to handle the job or might submit numerous change orders during the renovation.

“If the low bidder is a contractor with no experience with public construction, we could be slowed down," Superintendent Judy Lucarelli wrote in a Nov. 7 email. "We will have no say about our preference for local subcontractors, such as electrician, roofing, or excavation. For all of these reasons [construction manager] is an attractive alternative for us."

State law allows for 10 publicly funded projects to use a construction manager, and there are only three such projects in the state. To qualify, projects must be in excess of $2.5 million.

In a letter dated Dec. 3, Bureau of General Services Director Edward Dahl notified Northport its application to hire a construction manager was approved. The next step for school officials is to begin interviewing candidates.

The proposed renovation would add 7,500 square feet to the school. It includes the addition of three middle school classrooms, a music room/stage, expansion of the gym, kitchen renovation for food preparation onsite, and re-purposing some existing space in the building. By a wide margin, voters approved the $3 million project, which will be locally funded.

Work is expected to be completed by mid-August 2016.

In other business:

Principal Todd Martin outlined several potential one-time expenditures the district could consider for the school. Those expenditures could include creation of an aquaponics lab/greenhouse, an outdoor classroom and other enhancements to the school.

 

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