HARVARD — Since estimates for renovations to the Bromfield School science labs and Bromfield House turned out to be much pricier than expected, the School Committee is going back out for more estimates.
On Sept. 16, the School Committee reviewed estimated costs for outdated science labs and an aging administrative building. As the Bromfield House lacks ADA compliance, the cost to bring everything up to code plus needed renovations to the building are estimated to cost $686,572. The science labs lack modern technology, required space and updated HVAC systems and storage rooms. The cost to update the labs came in at $3,474,300.
At a Finance Committee meeting Oct. 30, member Steve Colwell, liaison for the School Committee, updated the group on the School Committee’s plans to get lower estimates.
“The School Committee has gone back to the architecture consultant and asked them to downgrade the scope of the science labs particularly, and take another look at Bromfield House (to re-do) the cost estimate,” Colwell said.
The original estimate included all eight of the Bromfield School science labs, and the School Committee has since felt that only three may need to be renovated at this time.
“Given the high cost of the original estimate, the administration determined what upgrades would be absolutely necessary and asked (Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects) to review the revised scope of work and come up with a revised estimate,” School Committee Chairwoman SusanMary Redinger said. “The new estimate will include upgrades to three of the eight labs originally included, HVAC for all rooms and storage upgrades.”
As for Bromfield House, other options may be a more cost effective choice.
“The house needs repairs; however, many school committee members have expressed doubts over the wisdom of renovating a 100-plus-year-old residence at a cost of almost $700,000,” Redinger said. “Therefore, we are exploring the ramifications of not renovating and relocating the school administrative offices elsewhere.”
As Bromfield House is under the control of the School Committee, members are also looking into what it would mean to give the building back to the town.
“The Bromfield house was given to the residents of Harvard under the direction of the School Committee by the Bromfield Trustees,” Redinger said. “We are awaiting word from town counsel as to the legalities of giving the house back to the town. The original deed of the house included some limitations on the usage and sale of the house, which we asked counsel to give a ruling on.”
As no official votes have been taken for Bromfield House, Redinger added that relocating the administrative offices is not imminent since there are not, currently, any dire safety concerns in Bromfield House. However, the School Committee feels the desire to have an ADA-compliant building is very important.
The School Committee hopes to have more information on both of these projects in time for their meeting on Nov. 12.
Asked why the committee decided the estimates were too high, Redinger wrote in an email on Nov. 1, “We did not have a price in mind for the science labs; $3.5 million is simply a lot of money. The SC is mindful of the other financial needs of Harvard and wanted to pare down the scope of the project if at all possible, while still ensuring a safe and efficient space for the science labs.
“As for the Bromfield House, in 2012 we received a quote of $443,250 for repairs and an additional $745,000 to provide handicap access, for a total of $1,188,250. “However, the quotes were not done by an engineering firm who could provide us with an assessment of the overall structural integrity and needs of the building. Hence, GRLA was brought in to execute that assessment and provide us with a more detailed scope of work.
“Given that the fair market value of the Bromfield House (not including the land) was determined to be $263,368, the School Committee feels that it’s prudent to question putting almost $700,000 worth of repairs and upgrades into the building, which was built for residential purposes.”
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