Hildreth House Phase 2 subcommittee scrambles to meet FY2021 capital deadline

The first meeting between DiGiorgio Architects (DAI) and the Hildreth House Phase 2 Subcommittee finally took place June 28, and architects gave the committee the news it hoped to hear: DAI believes it will have detailed drawings and preliminary cost estimates by Oct. 1. If that deadline is met, it will be in time to submit the necessary documentation for the project to the Capital Planning and Investment Committee for review, the first step to getting the project on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting in the spring. Assistant Town Administrator Marie Sobalvarro told the architects that the estimate did not need to be firm until later in the fall, but it “shouldn’t go up dramatically.”

The Phase 2 subcommittee has been frustrated by the length of time it took to get to this stage. Funding for schematic design was approved at 2018 Annual Town Meeting, but the Select Board decided that instead of appointing a building committee for the Phase 2 project, it wanted to create a Permanent Building Committee (PBC) that would be charged with overseeing all town building projects (except school projects funded by the Massachusetts School Building Authority) going forward.

It took the rest of that summer to create the PBC charge and recruit members. The PBC met for the first time in September and discussed the Phase 2 request for quotes (RFQ), but at its next meeting, it decided the RFQ should wait until the fire station traffic study was complete. That delayed the project further, and the RFQ did not go out until January 2019. The contract with DAI was finally signed in June.

DAI architects Thomas Lam and Christopher Sullivan told the subcommittee they will prepare various options with boxes and square footage and rough estimates based on that square footage in time for the next meeting, scheduled for July 12. They will meet with the subcommittee once or twice more in July to get its input on the options, and expect to have agreement on what the building will look like by the end of July.

The subcommittee supplied DAI with a list of what it wants in the addition, mainly a single-story building with dining space for up to 90 people in a large room that could be partitioned off for uses such as smaller events or exercise classes. Members also made it clear that they want a warming kitchen only, not a commercial kitchen, because of the maintenance and training necessary for commercial kitchens. The building will also have storage for tables and chairs when they are not in use and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.

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