|At Last: Mount Greylock Field Project on Track|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff |
05:23AM / Friday, November 03, 2023
|An architect's rendering of plans for a new track and field at Mount Greylock Regional School that is expected to be completed next spring.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — After seven years, controversy about the choice of surface, dozens of meetings by several committees and several disappointments from over-budget cost estimates and bids, Mount Greylock Regional School appears to finally be getting a track and multi-sport playing field.
By a vote of 5-0, the School Committee on Thursday decided to accept the recommendation
of its Field and Track Project Committee to enter negotiations with William. J. Keller and Sons Construction of Castleton on Hudson, N.Y., to build the field and eight-lane track on the west side of the middle-high school campus.
"This is really exciting," Carolyn Greene said after the vote in a Zoom meeting. "This is actually going to happen."
Greene served on the School Committee back when it was just a district for Grades 7 through 12 and when Williams College in February 2016 gave Mount Greylock a $5 million capital gift
at the outset of the district's campaign to build a new middle-high school.
Since then, the new Mount Greylock has been built, the Lanesborough and Williamstown school districts merged to create a fully regionalized preK-12 district and the field project has gone through numerous iterations — starting as an artificial turf field that could potentially have a track added and ending as a grass field with a track to support the sport with the highest participation rate at the middle-high school.
Technically, the motion passed by the School Committee on Thursday was to negotiate with Keller and, if necessary, move on to the second lowest of three bidders who responded to the district's most recent request for proposals.
Both Keller and Troy, N.Y.'s, Rifenburg Contracting came in at or near the figure the Field and Track Project Committee identified as necessary to stay on budget for the project.
Assistant Superintendent Joseph Bergeron told the School Committee it was "highly unlikely" that the administration would need to go to the second choice.
"If something catastrophic happened and [Keller was] unable to supply the necessary bonds or they turned around said, 'Just kidding,'" Begeron said. "There's nothing left around price or what the project is that is left uncertain here. It's probably just a procedural matter.
"But I think it's healthy to declare that we have two bidders who would be within our budget and all three bidders are qualified to do the work."
In answer to a question from Steven Miller, Bergeron outlined a few items that the district might choose to put back in the project if funds are available as it develops. Among the items on the wish list: going back to asphalt for walkways that are currently gravel in the project specs and installing a concrete pad that could hold bleachers and, perhaps, a press box at a later date.
"We're still a ways away from knowing whether, within the available funding, we'd be able to afford that," Bergeron said. "We're months away from knowing where we are in the construction work.
"If we accept this contract and move forward, we should start to have conversations about how we can afford those things, what kind of fund-raising we should do and so on. The point where those things would [be built] is late spring/early summer next year, so we have a little bit of a runway."
Greene said Thursday that the district has received some pledges for private contributions toward the project. The main sources of funds are the remaining balance in the Williams College capital gift, $800,000 borrowing authority from the district's member towns of Lanesborough and Williamstown and a $100,000 Community Preservation Act grant from Williamstown.
John Benzinger of Skanska USA Building told the School Committee that the contract with Keller could be signed by Monday or Tuesday of next week. Benzinger's colleague Aaron Singer told the panel that he would expect to see Keller's heavy equipment on the campus late next week or "the 13th [of November] would probably be the latest.
"They're going to hit the ground running hard and hopefully get a lot of work completed before the winter sets in," Singer said.