Wahconah Picks Firm for Building Needs Study

Wahconah Picks Firm for Building Needs Study
Posted on 08/05/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Wahconah Picks Firm for Building Needs StudyA Swedish company has been picked to lead a feasibility study of Wahconah Regional High School, paving the way for renovation or replacement of the 56-year-old building.

Laurie Casna, superintendent of the Central Berkshire Regional School District, said the firm Skanska impressed officials with its understanding of the process. It is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, but has offices in the U.S.

"What really stood out for Skanska is the way that they were able to kind of walk us through the process," Casna said. "They had a very clear vision for the feasibility study for Wahconah."

The company must be approved as the owner's project manager by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. That vote may come in September, Casna said.

Hiring the project manager represents the first big step forward for the study after it was approved by votes this spring in district towns. 

The study is expected to cost up to $850,000, about half of which will be reimbursed by the school building authority.

Casna said the study will take roughly 18 months. The entire process should take four to six years.

If Skanska is approved by the school building authority, a design team will be picked to analyze options for the school, Casna said. 

The project manager plays a key role in that process. It will also act as a liaison between the district and the school building authority, she said.

Four other firms were considered: Colliers International, Heery International, Inc., Leftfield and Pinck & Co, Inc. 

Casna said the district liked Skanska's experience in school projects and its connections to Berkshire County. A unit of the firm is also project manager for the Taconic High School project in Pittsfield. Three of the company's five proposed project team members live in Berkshire County.

Seven companies originally responded to the district's request for an owner's project manager, which was issued on June 21. "Everybody who submitted ... was extremely qualified," she said. "We had a great pool."

A six-member subcommittee of the Wahconah School Building Committee made the choice. 

Wahconah officials interviewed Skanska in mid-July and checked references. 

Building issues

Structural issues at Wahconah have been on the district's radar for years.

The district submitted statements of interest to the school building authority annually for 10 years before being invited to apply for assistance.

"Educationally, it's just not cut out for 2017," Casna said of the school. "It was designed for a classroom setting in the 1950s."

District leaders point to outdated plumbing, mechanical, heating and electrical systems and inadequate facilities for programs like art and music.

"We're fixing things in the moment," Casna said. "It's piecemealing and reactive. From my perspective, the best thing that we've got going on is that we're going to respond in a proactive way ... and really finally study, 'what is the best long-term solution?'"

From: http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/wahconah-picks-firm-for-building-needs-study,515988
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