The cost of building new science labs at Melrose High School could be more than double than what the city originally projected, Melrose City Planner Denise Gaffey told the aldermen last Thursday.
In early June, when Melrose received word it had been selected for a new science labs grant program by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), Mayor Rob Dolan said a "back of the envelope" estimate put the total cost of the project at $1.5-$1.8 million dollars. When city officials voted to send a statement of interest to the MSBA in January, city officials had a rough cost estimate of $1.2 million.
But at the aldermen's meeting last Thursday night, when the board unanimously approved a $153,000 bond for design and project management services, Gaffey said preliminary costs now figure around $3.3 million. The city had previously been seeking a $125,000 bond, which the Appropriations Committee amended on Thursday.
Gaffey said the increase design costs because it's more than a feasibility study, but schematic design that the state wants to see—a master plan that details the construction and layout of the new science labs.
MSBA requirements and accompanying cost estimates based on square footage also bumped up the cost of the project, Gaffey said, which at this stage still has "a lot of unknowns" and the city has to anticipate other requirements such as replacing floor tiles or ceiling tiles.
Through the grant program, Melrose will still be reimbursed slightly more than half of the total cost of the project, including the $153,000 bond given an initial OK by the aldermen.
Altogether the project will create nine lab/classroom spaces, each one about 1,400 square feet, Gaffey said.
The bond went before the Appropriations Committee earlier in the evening and was unanimously recommended, before the board held a special meeting of the full board to approve the bond, as the MBSA requires the city to have a vote within 30 days of the grant awarding on June 6 to have a vote authorizing the commitment to enter into the feasibility study.
Like the total cost of the project, the city will be reimbursed by slightly more than half the cost of the bond.
Gaffey said that although Melrose still needs to meet the state's requirements and final acceptance for the project, the competitive phase of the grant is now over and the city simply needs to create a project that meets the MSBA's requirements.
The timeline aims to submit the feasibility package, with budget and estimate for construction by the state's deadline of Aug. 6, with final approval from the MBSA coming in early October. The project must be completed by early September next year, per the state's requirements.
Gaffey also said because the state is expediting the program, they conducted their own request-for-proposals process, pre-selecting and assigned firms to work with the cities awarded grants through the program, with the city negotating the fee with those firms. Melrose's design firm is ai3 of Wayland.