Concerns raised about HazMat at Memorial Blvd.

TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

The possibility of hazardous materials lingering within the structure of the old Memorial Boulevard School sparked a conversation about how it would impact the money set aside for the conversion to a magnet school.

During the March 14 meeting of the Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Arts Magnet School committee, Angela Cahill, project manager from architectural firm Quisenberry Arcari + Malik, explained that the construction team has been in the building investigating the structure, a process that she defined as “very informative.”

Cahill said the project’s hazardous material consultant spent much of that week testing, “and while it’s pretty apparent that the asbestos is contained in probably all of your plaster [the walls and ceilings], the asbestos in the concrete floors is a little more inconsistent.”

The architectural team and the construction team came to the conclusion that they would like to recommend the removal of all of the plaster in the building, said Cahill.

Cahill’s reported initiated discussions regarding the project budget, with committee member John Smith saying “taking all of the plaster off of every wall in the building, plus the ceiling of the auditorium, that number is going to far surpass what anybody else imagined.”

Rusty Malik, principal-in-charge with QA+M, said that before the hazardous material removal goes out to bid, the firm will be providing a budget.

“It’s our intention to stay within the budget. As you’ve mentioned the magnitude, we don’t know yet,” said Cahill. “Let’s see what that is – we need to know that very soon – and see if that makes an impact on what we had reserved for construction.”

Smith said he was concerned because if hazardous material removal is “significantly more” than anticipated, he wouldn’t want to “nickel and dime the rest of the project in order to accommodate the budget.”

Earlier in the meeting, project manager Tim Callahan gave an update on the project’s finances.

To date, he said, $171,502 of the approximately $54.8 million budget has been expended. Callahan said the project “still has a contingency of 17 percent,” which he said is “pretty high.” He believes the contingency funds will be helpful when it comes to the (hazardous materials) removal, but that those costs will need more investigation.

“We also have costs in here [Munis report] of $18 per square foot already for a major rework of the HazMat before we get started conceptually,” said Callahan.

The next scheduled meeting of the committee will be held on Thursday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m., in Room 36 of the Board of Education building, 129 Church St., Bristol.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.