Thompson moves toward plan B as August completion date looms

Stratton nears completion; Hardy, Gibbs planning on schedule


UPDATED, Aug. 2: Delays in Thompson School construction consumed most of the time and attention of the Permanent Town Building Committee on July 18. Meeting at Town Hall, the committee heard from construction managers, designers and architects from four major school-building projects underway this summer.

While the Thompson School six-classroom addition construction was reported to be in trouble for meeting an expected Aug. 18 completion date, all other school projects are on schedule.

Burt Barachowitz, operation project manager for PMA Consultants, and Kevin Nigro, also from PMA, reported on the progress and impediments to progress on Thompson construction. Barachowitz said recent substantial progress in several areas included a number of inspections and tests completed, structural steel for second- and third-floor openings installed, masonry completed (up to windows on third floor), removing part of a wall at the first floor in stairwell two for new storage room, 90 percent of ceiling finished and new walkway pads on the roof installed.

Thompson: 2 issues tied to delays

Despite this and other work completed, Nigro said the construction was behind schedule because of two issues. First was manpower. The project manager, Kyle McManus, abruptly left the construction company, GTC of Haverhill, and has been replaced by Jim McGrath. The latter was not at the meeting, though was scheduled to attend.

Brian DeFilippis, the owner's project manager with PMA Consultants, told YourArlington on July 27 that PMA was notified that McManus left GTC Construction on July 7, and McGrath took over the same day.

Time needed for McGrath to familiarize himself with the project delayed construction.

A larger manpower issue emerged as members of the construction team began not showing up for work. Nigro illustrated this point by describing a recent assessment of the construction site in which only six workers had come to work that day. Five of them were masons.

After questioning by member Bill Hayner, Nigro estimated that the construction site should average 14 full-time equivalents daily.

A supplier who "shorted" the masons on blocks caused a second set of hurdles to completion of the Thompson addition. Citing the ripple effect, Nigro detailed how the shortage of blocks will hold back construction. Without the full amount of blocks the mason cannot finish the masonry, causing the installation of the windows to be delayed.

Furthermore, the staging on which the masons work has to be returned soon, and the masons will have to work on a lift. The supplier has given estimates from "a long lead of five weeks to a short lead of three weeks."

Nigro said that if McGrath were there, he might say that the project would be done on time, but "we just have to tell you what we see .... the project will not be completed on time."

Asked for an estimate of when the project would be entirely completed, he reported mid-to-late September.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine commented that construction company managers have no incentive to report delays early since they have to start paying fines at the time they formally report the delays. Hence, the construction company would wait until Aug. 18 -- the contracted substantial-completion date -- to announce a delay in the construction.

The evidence was so strong for a late completion of the Thompson construction project that the attention of the committee turned to plan B, or what is to occur if the addition is not ready to open when all schools do.

Chapdelaine asked Thompson Principal Karen Donato whether she had "a fully agreed upon temporary plan B" and if parents knew about it.

Donato said she had anticipated using the two modulars already on site plus the library to hold the three needed classrooms. The principal also inquired about students' access to the building and the playground if construction was still ongoing. After hearing the responses from the Thompson construction representatives, she concluded: "It will be a challenging beginning."

Stratton renovation: On schedule, within budget

Rob Juusala of engineering consultant NV5 and and Tim Rich, of Waltham architect DRA, reported on progress at the Stratton Elementary School. Much of the new construction has been completed and furniture moved into the classrooms. Linoleum flooring has now installed in all the corridors.

Juusala and Rich informed the committee that work on the gym and cafeteria has just started, as has dismantling the modulars.

Subcontractors have begun site work, following the overall landscape design. Still to be completed are the installations of the sliding glass door to the office and the exterior door handles.

All of this work, Juusala and Rich assured the committee, is on schedule and the school will be ready for a September opening.

[On July 26 and 27, trucks moved modular classrooms away from the project and out of town.]

Hardy, Gibbs project plans move forward

Beginning with the budget breakdown, the Hardy project manager and assistant project manager reported that it contained some fixed costs but at the same time some costs that were just estimates. Overall, however, they explained that “It was a tight project but [they] were working toward that budget” of $1 million.

The Hardy School architect Regan Shields-Ives of Feingold Alexander Associates presented renderings of the new classrooms to the committee. She announced they would move into feasibility and concept design soon. 

The playground, it was announced, will be relocated before winter. Parents were reassured that the gym will be free during recess time.

Plays areas were the focus of a parent petition in June. Read the details here >> 

Hayner did not recall the specifics of the discussion. "I do remember that the issue of playground space was addressed to my satisfaction, the intent to provide space for all the children once the construction is done," he wrote in an email July 27.

Reconstruction at the former Gibbs School is further along, with construction trailers moved onsite, and all electric power shut off.

Demolition and abatement was to begin July 24, and fences have been installed. The construction company is applying for a code variance.

The incoming Gibbs principal, Kristin DeFrancisco, has completed a walk-through with the designers and architect (from Feingold Alexander Associates) and made some suggestions for small changes which will be incorporated in the final plans.

In other business, the Permanent Town Building Committee heard reports about the kickoff of renovations to the Department of Public Works Yard along Grove Street. The company in charge of the DPW rebuild is KVAssociates, which is advertising for a designer, whom they hope to have hired by September. The town announced a request for proposals for the schematic design only on Aug. 2.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:28 p.m.

June 29, 2017: Hardy parents seeking parity keep up pressure for play areas

June 21, 2017: Bodie eyes Aug. 18 for Thompson completion, but keeps 'plan B' in place 

This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Jo Anne Preston was published Thursday, June 27, 2017, and updated Aug. 2.

Media partner

Site stats: November traffic | Cambridge Day: News >> 

Latest comments

Guest - Jane Arnold Alewife Brook sewage campaign: Meet Sunday
13 November 2022
Sometime about 1998 four children, ages 7 and 8, spent several hours retrieving trash from Alewife B...
Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; it'll be published first
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see

Your Businesses

Your People

Barbara McOwen.

McOwens: A half-century Highland fling

One small corner of the world's heritage of tunes and dance, thousands of miles away from where they began, is being kept fully alive by two longtime Arlington residents. Preserving traditions underlying Scottish fiddle music and Highland dance are Barbara and Robert McOwen. INSIDE ARLINGTON:Among…
Marie Krepelka is awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club, 2018. Photo – Ashley Maher

Veteran Select Board administrator Krepelka dies

Marie Krepelka was awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club in 2018. / Photo by Ashley Maher UPDATED Nov. 1: Two days after Arlington’s Select Board honored its longtime administrator, Marie A. (Spelman) Krepelka has died. At the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, members and town staff…

Housing Authority

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below


Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive

Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Your Arts

Your Restaurants

Your Events

Your Police, Fire

Your Democracy

Your Housing

Site Partners