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Mount Greylock Panel Picks Designer for New Athletic Field
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
05:07AM / Friday, July 29, 2022
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School District's Designer Selection Committee Wednesday chose CHA Architecture of Portland, Maine, as the preferred designer for a new athletic field and running track.
After interviewing representatives from CHA and SLR Consulting, the committee voted unanimously to authorize the district's administration to enter into negotiations with CHA.
The School Committee earlier this month voted to authorize the design group, which includes administrators, School Committee members and district personnel, to review responses to the district's request for proposals and make a final decision, provided that the preferred vendor was supported by at least two thirds of the committee.
During the discussion after the interviews, committee members mentioned they were impressed that CHA had designed 400 natural grass fields and that it has 20 people dedicated to athletic projects.
According to the timeline that CHA presented on Wednesday, the middle/high school could be using the new multi-sport field and track as soon as September 2023.
The project schedule the designer presented, permitting this fall and putting the project out to bid in early January with construction in the spring and summer of next year.
"It's an ambitious schedule, but it's doable," a CHA representative told the district's design committee.
In addition to its experience with the kind of grass field sought by the School Committee, CHA had a few of other advantages over its competition that emerged during the design committee's deliberations.
For one thing, CHA planned its presentation around the site where the district wants to create a new athletic complex.
Representatives from SLR, which did not attend an optional site visit when developing its proposal, were surprised during their presentation that the district wants to put the new field and track near its new administration building – considerably south of the existing remains of a track on the northwest part of the campus.
CHA also had the advantage of a well-known local partner, Guntlow & Associates civil engineers.
"Guntlow has a lot of knowledge of the site," owner's project manager John Benzinger told the committee. "They're familiar with the well system. Guntlow gives them a significant advantage to get up and go quickly.
"Also in the permitting process, it gives them an advantage."
Mount Greylock Business Administrator Joe Bergeron, a voting member of the Design Committee, agreed with his colleagues' assessment of CHA but noted that SLR also has personnel in the area and would be an acceptable choice.
After voting CHA forward as the preferred choice, the committee voted unanimously on a second motion to rank the two firms, allowing for the possibility to negotiate with SLR if, for some reason, it cannot reach an agreement with CHA.
"I've been on plenty of tracks designed by both companies," noted Design Committee member Brian Gill, a physical education teacher and track and field coach at Mount Greylock. "I don't have any doubt we'd be OK with either one."
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