What happened: The School Building Committee (SBC) during an April 16 Zoom meeting reached a consensus among its members to take a 3-month pause on Hardy/Upham Project work due to scheduling disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior Project Manager Jeff D’Amico of Compass Project Management, the contracting firm tasked with the project, reported during the meeting that as of early March 2020, COVID-19 has interrupted the flow of scheduled benchmarks.
Most immediately affected is the schematic design of the project. D’Amico said “”We were trending toward getting a Preferred Schematic Recommendation (PSR) this month for submission in May” to the SBC.
That May submission date is considered no longer feasible because of a desire for full public participation in the process. A delay in the ability to solicit public participation on a PSR due to COVID-19 means that as a whole, the project benchmark dates are no longer feasible. In a domino effect, a delay of at least six months for the opening of a new school is therefore expected.
Although the public can comment and participate in public government meetings via Zoom, such meetings are not considered a replacement for traditional pubic forums. Because of social distancing measures, such forums cannot be scheduled for the foreseeable future, leading to an expected delay of at least six months — from an original date of August 2020 to a revised date of February 2025 — for the opening of a new school. The site on which a new Hardy or Upham school will be built is as yet undermined.
Once presented for public comment, the PSR, which would lay out the physical drawings of the space including a complete description of the building’s structural, mechanical, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as the interior and exterior finishes, and the siting of the building, will then presumably be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
The original date for submission to the MSBA was expected to be Dec, 31, 2020. The new submission date is now expected to be July 7, 2021.
D’Amico said that given these expected delays, “We’re suggesting that perhaps a hiatus should be taken over the next three months,” from work on the project, essentially from the middle of April through the middle of July. At that point the SBC would have the consultants continue the process from where it left off.
The hope is that by September, COVID-19 restrictions will have been lifted and the consultants and the SBC may then engage with the public through community forums to seek feedback on the project.
D’Amico’s main ask was for agreement from the SBC that a shift of approximately six months for the dates of all benchmarks is necessary and realistic. Due to the uncertain nature of COVID-19, D’Amico said the main thing was to work toward Oct 27, 2020 as a date for a Preferred Schematic Report submission.
The SBC agreed that a vote on pushing out the PSR submission date was not needed, and that simple agreement was adequate. The members agreed that as a Committee they had reached a consensus to take a pause on the Hardy/Upham Project until July 2020 due to scheduling disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.