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About $5M cut from cost gap for new AHS design

Meeting considers ways to stay within budget

UPDATED, Dec. 18: The Arlington High School Building Committee has trimmed about $5 million from the design-development estimate for a rebuilt Arlington High School, but the new amount remains $24.7 million over the agreed-to top amount. The project is to cost $290.8 million, with the state contributing $86 million. 

AHS project

To reduce the gap, the committee met three times recently. Its meeting set for Tuesday. Dec. 17, was postponed to Wednesday evening, and the committee worked that night to greatly reduce the gap.

An update from the committee reported Friday, Dec. 13, said, "Much of the remaining gap is attributable to the rapidly changing construction market and the number of large, competing projects underway."

The committee continues its work to align the project with the approved budget through value engineering, design modifications and changes in scope. At meetings Dec. 3, 9 and 10, the group discussed a variety of ways to close the gap, while maintaining the education program and functionality, building quality and sustainability.

Alternates considered

Also considered was the ability to list some items as alternates, which would allow them to be included later in the project if the budget allows.

One of the largest items under discussion is reducing the number of geothermal wells while still maintaining the sustainability goals of an all-electric and carbon-neutral building.

Other large items are lighting and artificial turf for the new athletic fields, the bikeway connection, eastside pedestrian stairs and ramp, and modified materials and design.

The inclusion of some of these components may mean the potential exclusion of others, the committee update says. Changes to project phasing was discarded because of student impact and negligible savings.

The committee next plans to meet Tuesday, Dec. 17, to further discuss the project team’s suggestions, with the goal of making final decisions on aligning the project with the budget. A second meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 18, in case it is needed.

The committee says it aims to maintain the project timeline by completing the project scope as soon as possible. 

In November, the rebuild project, in the phase where the design is further developed and refined, completed a revised project estimate, showing a $29.5 million gap between the design-development estimate and the approved project budget. At the time, the committee reported that significant contributors included higher estimates for HVAC, mechanical utilities and site costs.

In a Nov. 22 post on the project website, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said: “Situations like this are common for large projects and are part of the process. Maintaining educational components of the facility are the highest priority and the Committee remains dedicated to building an educationally exceptional facility.”

Steps to take

To align the project with the approved budget, the committee plan to take a number of steps over the next several weeks. It is likely that a combination of value engineering and design modifications will be needed to stay within the budget.

Value engineering is the process of comparing alternatives and their associated costs, and making choices to keep the project within budget, without sacrificing educational priorities. It is an exercise that all construction projects use and it is required by the MSBA for all projects no matter how the project cost estimate compares to the budget.

For more information, visit www.ahsbuilding.org or follow the project on Facebook and YouTube


Nov. 22, 2019: Estimate for new AHS design shows $29.5M gap
June 14, 2019: A special election: AHS rebuild, override OK'd with strong support 
Feb. 20, 2019: AHS rebuild committee sends schematic design to state agency
Feb. 6, 2019: Official vote backs cost of rebuilt AHS at $291.4M 
Jan. 15, 2019: Second AHS rebuild forum draws estimated 200 -- 25 with questions 
First forum, Nov. 28, 2018: Fears about cost may divide town, but numbers face more scrutiny
Dec. 5, 2018: AHS rebuild committee directs architect to work with tradition
June 26, 2018: DESIGN CHOSEN: High school to be rebuilt, not renovated
Oct. 4, 2017: 3 finalists chosen to design revamped Arlington High

This news announcement was published Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, and updated Dec. 18, to change subheadline. 

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