September 18, 2023
Dear Burlington Community,
If you’ve passed by Institute Drive or have been following us on social media, you know the demolition of A, and B buildings is complete, C and D are down to their foundations, and S.D. Ireland has moved into the footprint of A and B to begin site work for the new building. While we still have a few months before we begin to talk about laying foundations, this is a big deal as it signifies a shift in the project from ‘cleanup’ to ‘construction’.
As you may recall, this summer the State of Vermont voted to award BSD $16m for environmental clean-up efforts. We are also well positioned to receive at least $1m from our Federal Delegation to support the Stormwater portion of the project (see below) and we continue to seek additional funding; donations continue to come in support of the project, we will be advocating for State funding for our regional technical center this fall, and our lawsuit against Monsanto is still moving it’s way through the legal system.
This work to secure funding is particularly important as we begin to review the final bid package for the project including the final Guaranteed Maximum Price from our construction manager, Whiting-Turner (WT). Known as “GMP 3”, this estimate is the largest of all of our previous estimates, as it includes the bulk of the construction costs. WT put together a GMP estimate by asking hundreds of subcontractors to bid on different pieces of the project.
Last week, WT submitted a final GMP to us in the amount of $161.7 million and the board is planning to discuss and vote on whether or not to approve the GMP at their next board meeting, Tuesday, September 19.
The final GMP is about $5m lower than the draft GMP that WT submitted earlier this month but is still about $15m higher than estimated in May 2023. The major difference between the two is that this final GMP identifies about $4m of non-programmatic changes that will be cost savings to the project.
Our project consultants at White + Burke have used the final GMP number and factored in increases from this summer’s discovery of additional asbestos contamination, and updated contingency numbers to produce a BHS/BTC Project Cost Update memo with recommended options to move forward. As noted in their memo to the board, the total project cost is projected to be about $203.8 M.
The good news is that because of the work we have done to bring funding to the project, the updated project cost shows the District with a $3.2 M funding cushion while maintaining $9.7M in contingency funds. This means that even though the project cost is higher than initially thought, we are in a position to move forward with this project without asking taxpayers for any additional funds.
The board is set to vote on a direction forward at the September 19 board meeting and I’ll be sure to communicate the results of that meeting and let you know of our next steps.
Updated Schedule – WT’s Final GMP also provides a very basic schedule update. The updated schedule assumes a worst-case scenario Substantial Completion date of April 26th, 2026, and a move-in-ready date of July 10th, 2026. While this is later than I had hoped for, I believe that being able to move into this building before the start of the 2026/27 school year is critical and I am glad to see this is still possible after the unanticipated setbacks the project has faced from the Asbestos findings on the foundation this summer. Still, our team will continue efforts to fast-track the schedule so that delays do not push us any further back.
Funding – On July 31, we were notified by Senator Welch’s office that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment has included $1,200,000 in congressionally directed spending for our BHS-BTC stormwater project. Both Senators Sanders and Welch, along with Representative Balint, have supported including funds for the project in the federal budget. While this is good news, this is only the next step in the process leading to receiving an award. Both the Senate and House need to agree on a budget, including the congressionally directed spending requests before the requests become law. This process usually concludes in the fall.
Demolition – EnviroVantage is progressing with the demolition. C and D are now down to their foundations. EV started the removal of contaminated soils around buildings C and D and abatement work on E and F is almost complete. Demolition of the building F superstructure is anticipated to start in mid-September, with a plan to have all buildings down by mid-November.
Zoning – The City issued the zoning permit amendment which will allow the project team to submit the full building permit application. We anticipate the application will be submitted in late September.
Test Furniture – A furniture test classroom has been set up in DtBHS! The test classroom will allow faculty, staff, and students to try out different types and styles of classroom furniture. A survey will be conducted to allow staff and students to provide feedback on the furniture types.
Environmental – Following the findings of the asbestos-containing glue daubs and waterproofing that was uncovered on the A building foundations, our environmental consultants Fuss and O’Neill have been testing those same materials as they become exposed on the rest of the buildings. As we moved into the demo of B building, one of the test results from the waterproofing on the east foundation of B building also came back as contaminated with PCBs. This required additional testing of the soil adjacent to the foundation where PCBs were also found. We received approval from the EPA to be able to continue removal of the B building foundation (which has long since been completed), but additional testing to the soils adjacent to the east side of B building was required to determine the depth and extent of the contamination for the soil removal and disposal.