After another long discussion on the selection of an architect for the and – this time with the Board of Selectmen – the issue was set aside for another day.
The board decided that there was not enough time to properly discuss the issue, so it moved it to its own meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Once again, concerns over the of using Moser Pilon Nelson – the second highest of the five bidders, the possible loss of reimbursements, and the process used by the Permanent Building Committee – and that perhaps enough time wasn’t devoted – were discussed.
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PBC member Gary Feldman said that in regards to process, the committee followed the rules – and it was even checked with the town attorney – and that a lot of time was put into this decision. He noted that there was a subcommittee that went through 25 different criteria in the vetting process before coming to a decision.
Selectman Ron Stomberg, also a PBC member, added that the committee was encouraged to go with something that was “logical.” Stomberg said that the project will be a difficult one, and now is not the time to experiment and use an architect that the town has never used before. He feels Moser Nelson Pilon “knows the ropes.”
“No reflection on any of (the other architects), they’re probably all fine people,” Stomberg said. “It just seemed like the way to go.”
Not all PBC members were convinced however. Lori Spielman, who is also a member of the Board of Selectmen, said that no legitimate reason has been given for why the low bid cannot be accepted.
“We keep saying, “No, no, no,”’ she said. “Why?”
First Selectman Maurice Blanchette responded that the recommendation has been made, each member made his or her own decision, and that the question is whether or not to move ahead with the recommendation.
The suggestion was made early and often that the whole thing be started over – or turned over to – the Capital Region Education Council, who the committee, in an attempt to , chose not to use. The theory is that even if the decision is the same, at least there will be more surety and comfort in it.
Two representatives from CREC were on hand and said that should the town want to use their services, they would provide them.
“I’m willing to spend a little bit more money to make sure that we are making the right decision at this point in time,” said Selectman John Turner.
By best estimates, there are approximately six to eight weeks left to get this settled in order to stay on schedule for a Fall 2015 opening of the schools. If the project gets off schedule, it could be devastating. The schools are already overcrowded and enrollment is continuing to rise in Ellington.
“In terms of enrollment and where this district happens to be, we’re already behind,” Superintendent of Schools Stephen Cullinan said. “I’m going to be really thankful if we make through to Fall 2015 and don’t have to do something drastic just to take care of enrollment in the meantime. We have pushed it as close as you possibly could.”
A lot of things were addressed during the meeting, but more time is needed, so the discussion will continue next week.