Middle School Window Replacement Approved by Town Council

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Watertown Middle School

Watertown Middle School

Hundreds of windows that leak, let in breezes and do not connect well to the building will be replaced at Watertown Middle School in a project jointly paid for by the town and the state. 

Tuesday night, the Town Council approved the town borrowing $3.08 million, of which 48.47 percent will be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

The price of the project grew from about $300,000 to over $3 million after the state’s project manager, Gale Associates, examined the school and found that 207 windows, instead of just a few dozen, needed replacing.

Some windows let in water, others have gaps that let in the cold in the winter and some are permanently closed, said Siva Sivalogan, of exPERTcon Inc., who will serve as owner’s project manger on behalf of the Watertown Public Schools.

“(The middle school) is solidly built, unfortunately the windows are not in good shape, to the extent that they are not compliant (with state standards),” Sivalogan said.

Sivalogan showed photos of windows that show they are not well connected to the building.

“They are held in by the brick,” Sivalogan said. “They do have hazardous materials related to the sealant or backing.”

Council members wanted to know when the last time the windows were replaced. School Facilities Director Stephen Romanelli said it has been a while.

“I think sometime in the early ’70s they were replaced,” Romanelli said.

Windows will have to be custom built, Sivalogan said, because they are neither standard nor identical. Sivalogan is hopeful that the project will be completed on time and within budget. He noted that esPERTcon and Gale worked together on an elementary school in Barnstable and came in under budget. One of the ways that Sivalogan plans to get a good price is by timing the bids right.

“Our intention is to bid out the project before the end of the year,” Sivalogan said. “That is when contractors are hungry for work. They are finishing projects like this and looking for their next project.”

The timeline he set out calls for starting to design the project right away, then put it out for bid beginning after Thanksgiving and close bids and award the contract by early January. Removal of  hazardous materials would occur during April vacation so students are not in the building. Much of the work would be done over the summer and would be finished before Labor Day and ready for the beginning of school in the fall of 2017. The final touches would be completed by the end of 2017 so the school would be ready for the heart of winter.

The cost for construction is projected to be $2.8 million, Sivalogan said, and the total without the contingency is $3.1 million. With the 2 percent contingency the total is projected to be $3.3 million, of which the town would be responsible for $1.7 million, and the state will reimburse the rest.

Councilor Aaron Dushku requested that windows near the green area on the south side of the buildings would be able to open because that is where the school garden is planned to go.

The project is a long time in coming, Town Council President Mark Sideris said. “

We have been improving energy efficiency in our buildings but we can’t save money with windows like that,” Sideris said. “You can’t teach with windows like that when you can’t control the temperature.”

The Town Council voted 9-0 to approve borrowing money for the project.

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