LEFTFIELD chosen to manage WMHS building project

Apr 2, 2021 by

Published in the April 2, 2021 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Project management firm LEFTFIELD is the first choice of the Permanent Building Committee to serve as Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) for the Wakefield Memorial High School building project.

The Permanent Building Committee (PBC) interviewed five firms over two nights earlier this week. Members scored each firm and sent their grades to PBC member Chip Tarbell who compiled the scores.

Tarbell said that all five firms were “very qualified and the scores reflected that.” He said that four of the five firms receive at least one first place vote. The only firm that was not the first choice of any PBC members, Skanska, finished second to LEFTFIELD in the overall scoring.

The PBC voted last night to authorize chairman Joseph Bertrand to enter into negotiations with LEFTFIELD. If an agreement for OPM services cannot be reached with LEFTFIELD, the PBC directed Bertrand to move to the second-choice firm, Skanska.

LEFTFIELD served as OPM for the $6 million Walton Elementary School upgrade and renovation in 2018. The firm is currently working with the PBC as OPM for the $9.6 million Public Safety Building expansion and rehab.

Of the other three firms who vied for the high school OPM job, Hill International and PMA Consultants tied for third place in the PBC’s scoring, with Dore and Whittier bringing up the rear. Tarbell and Bertrand observed that the scoring was very close among the four runners up.

The town’s OPM selection must also be approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s OPM Review Panel. The next scheduled meeting of the MSBA’s OPM Review Panel is May 3.

Massachusetts General Laws require the owner of a proposed public building construction, reconstruction, demolition or repair project to contract for the services of an OPM if the estimated cost of the proposed contract for that construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair is $1.5 million or more

It is the job of the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) to represent the town during the entire duration of the construction project. Among many other responsibilities, the OPM oversees the hiring of the architect and general contractor/construction manager, manages the project schedule and budget and coordinates communication between the town and the MSBA. Because they serve such an important function, the OPM must submit a formal proposal of qualifications and interview with the Town before being hired.

After being rejected for three years in a row, the town learned in December of 2019 that the MSBA Board of Directors had voted to invite Wakefield Memorial High School into the MSBA’s Eligibility Period. The MSBA partners with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable and cost-effective public school facilities.

Once accepted into the eligibility period, the district and the MSBA work collaboratively to determine potential solutions to the issues identified in the original Statement of Interest. A district can expect MSBA reimbursement of up to 50 percent of eligible construction costs.

In November 2020, Town Meeting voted 200-1 to approve $2 million for a feasibility study for the reconstruction of the high school. Bertrand told Town Meeting that, once funding was approved, it could take 20-24 months for an architectural firm to complete the feasibility study.


In other business last night, the Janet Slemenda of HKT Architects reviewed the schematic design for the Public Safety Building with the PSB before HKT sends it off to its cost estimators. It is expected to take about three weeks for the cost estimate to be completed. Should the cost estimate exceed the project budget, discussions will take place to determine what changes need to be made.

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