HARVARD -- The Town Hall Building Committee has been working to finalize a contract with Design Techniques, Inc., or DTI, the firm chosen to provide owner's project manager and on-site construction management services for the project.
A proposed top to bottom renovation of the old building, with a new addition, Town Meeting previously voted to approve the project concept, for which the estimated cost is $4 million.
Last week, the selectmen-appointed THBC presented the latest draft of the DTI contract to the board. Hopefully, the final draft would be ready for the selectmen to sign at their next meeting, if not before, both groups agreed.
One issue that sparked discussion was the "term and timely performance" clause, which sets the contract termination date to coincide with the estimated project completion date of June 30, 2014.
Selectmen questioned whether that's realistic. "Is the earlier or later date to our advantage?" Bill Johnson asked.
THBC Chairman Peter Jackson said it works to the town's advantage as it is. "With a later date, rates could go up," he said. "This is the latest reasonable date now."
It's DTI's job to complete the job by the date they've agreed to, Jackson explained. If not, "we decide what to do." They could, for example, agree to extend the date, with or without penalties to the firm. "It's a hard date in the contract," he said.
"But Johnson asked what happens if the work is done but there are "performance
"We have that right," Jackson answered. But the end date builds in punch list issues. "We slid the date forward based on the unfulfilled assumption of a start date right after Annual Town Meeting," he continued.
"How much slack is there in the schedule?" Ron Ricci asked.
The answer was about a month from one item to the next, based on OPM and architect's estimates.
Harking back to his experience with the library building project, which DTI also worked on, Jackson said it should be timely.
An April 2007 move-in date predicted for the new library was met, despite 120 change orders. We made it," he said, and the OPM was in large part responsible for that, in his view. Jackson said he anticipates a similar scenario will play out this time.
THBC member Doug Coots agreed. "It's reasonable now to make an educated guess," he said, with enough flexibility to adjust as the project moves along, in particular when the construction job goes out for bids.
"It still seems tight," Johnson said of the schedule, noting just 60 days after construction is completed to have "all the loose ends tied off" before the contract term ends. Especially since the OPM is charged with ensuring it's all done.
But Tim Clark saw wisdom in the taut timeline. "Let's not give (in the contract) any incentive to lollygag," he said. "If DTI and we agree with the June 30, 2014, date, let's go with it."
As discussion of contract details continued, another item Johnson raised concern about was that even though DTI oversees every aspect of on-site work, there's no language specifying who's responsible if something goes wrong.
If it's not DTI and they "help us work through it," he asked if the firm is paid extra for added work until the matter is settled.
Clark suggested adding a what-if clause. "Isn't that what contingencies are for?" he asked.
"There is one we can use, but we can't anticipate a list," Jackson said.
"You can look at every item from a positive or a negative side," Coots ventured. He noted an anecdote Jackson had shared from the library project, when a potentially costly delay was avoided by astute on-site management.
"But if he (OPM) wasn't there, and there were delays, would he be responsible?" Johnson persisted.
"Basically, no," Jackson said. But that wasn't the point of the story, which illustrated how the OPM "negotiated issues" with the subcontractors. The same DTI managers will be on site this time. "I have a lot of confidence in these two guys," he concluded.
Ricci wanted to know why hourly rates were not stated in the contract. Told it's in the proposal, Ricci said the rates should be referenced in the contract.
"No problem," Jackson agreed.
The board previously authorized Chairman Lucy Wallace to sign the document, which at this point only needed adjustments as discussed and another review by town counsel.