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Bids Come Back High on ADA, Title IX Work at Mount Greylock
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:19AM / Friday, July 02, 2021
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee on Wednesday voted to ask bidders on an athletic field contract to "sharpen their pencils" and come back to the district with ideas for cost savings.
 
This week, the district opened bids from two respondents to a request for proposals to bring the middle-high school's playing fields into compliance with Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 
In a development reminiscent of the School Committee's stalled efforts to complete a more ambitious athletic field project, both bids came in above estimate.
 
In April, the committee discussed an estimated price tag of $1,087,026 based on its architect's estimates, to build accessible paths to Mount Greylock's varsity fields and bring the school's softball fields up to the standard of its baseball diamonds, as required by the 1972 gender equity law known as Title IX.
 
HM Nunes and Son Construction submitted a bid to do the work for $1,331,000. Mountain View Landscape's bid had a bottom line of $1,387,500, just 4.2 percent above the low bid.
 
But that low bid came in 22 percent above the architect's estimate.
 
"Every time we've gone out to bid, the numbers have been very, very different from the predictions," Steve Miller said to Art Eddy of Traverse Landscape Architects. "Can you comment?"
 
Eddy said there were a couple of areas where he noticed variance between the estimator and the contractors who actually bid the contract.
 
"We probably underestimated watering for the site," he said. "That number seemed higher."
 
"There are some economic pieces that we don't have control over, such as labor shortages and supplies."
 
Eddy offered to approach both bidders and ask if they can bring their numbers down by using less expensive materials. The committee voted 6-0-1 to authorize the administration to work with Eddy on getting revised numbers from the bidders. Jose Constantine abstained from the vote.
 
Carolyn Greene said the committee's only other choices were to accept the low bid of $1.3 million or ask the state for an extension of an April 2022 deadline to bring the Mount Greylock fields into compliance with ADA and Title IX.
 
The district has known it needed to do corrective work since it began an addition/renovation project at the middle-high school in 2016. The field work was not included in the $64 million school building project because the district knew that the Massachusetts School Building Authority would not share the cost of the needed work on the athletic fields.
 
Instead, the Title IX and ADA work has long been considered one of the potential uses for the proceeds of a $5 million capital gift from Williams College.
 
Rather than address the accessibility and equity work on its own, the School Committee for years considered it part of a larger project that would have included the installation of an artificial turf multi-sport field. 
 
When that more comprehensive project fell through this year because of higher than anticipated costs after its second round of bidding, the School Committee decided to separate out the Title IX and ADA compliance components and send them to bid on their own.
 
Before Wednesday, the committee had hoped for a construction timeline that would see work start as soon as next week and wrap up at the end of August with the ability to use the re-sodded fields in mid- to late-September.
 
"The first factor in the fall was a September cross country meet to be the first run across the newly sodded fields," Business Administrator Joe Bergeron said. "Apart from that, it was JV soccer and not having that field in the outfield of the varsity baseball field available to them. We're really looking at disruption to the cross country team if we push it back."
 
In order to expedite a decision and not push that timeline back any further, the committee decided to post meetings for Wednesday and Thursday next week with the hope that Eddy will get new numbers back from the bidders in time to use the earlier date.
 
In other business at Wednesday's special meeting, the School Committee held a brief executive session before voting 7-0 to approve a contract renewal for all the district's bargaining units to cover the 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years.
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