LOWELL — Phase 1 of the Lowell High School project should be completed this summer, according to Suffolk Construction.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Project Executive Rex Radloff from Suffolk provided an update on the ongoing construction project. Ongoing tasks for the construction of a new gym include interior and exterior masonry and finishes like painting, ceilings and floors.

In February, Suffolk anticipates the gym equipment will have arrived and the wood flooring portion of the work will be completed come April.

Councilor Wayne Jenness asked if procurement in the second through fourth stages would be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or supply chain issues.

“Without a doubt, COVID touches everything and it has made this project more of a challenge than other jobs,” Radloff said. “As far as the schedule goes, we’re completely on top of it.”

Suffolk also has a strong relationship with subcontractors and vendors, Radloff added. Ensuring Lowell High School was a priority with them, was his priority, he said.

Jenness also asked if there were anticipated overages due to the fluctuating price of steel. Radloff said he could not answer with certainty because the cost was not known yet, but he said prices were competitively bid. Procurement for phase 2 is ongoing.

Councilor Erik Gitschier expressed a desire to see solar panels added to the plan. He said it would be a cost savings to the residents.

City Manager Eileen Donoghue said the Massachusetts School Building Authority does not reimburse for solar and it would be a cost incurred by the city. The project is designed to hold solar panels and cabling has been incorporated into the design, Joseph Drown, principal at Perkins Eastman, said.

Councilor Kim Scott agreed with having solar panels put on the project.

“I think it’s a pennywise and pound foolish for us not to do it at the same time all the engineers are there while this is going on. I know it’s a costly thing to do but to not think about long-term energy savings on a building this large just really doesn’t make any sense,” Scott said.

Councilor Dan Rourke asked if the Central Street bridge project would impact the high school, but Radloff said it would not be an issue. Rourke also asked if the budget for the high school included projections for unexpected needs.

“Traditionally, yes,” Radloff said. “Because of the flux in the market is just so differing on a daily basis, on a monthly basis, it’s very difficult to pin down on exactly where the market stands until we actually have numbers in hand.”

Rourke also asked for information on tax dollars used to acquire properties on Arcand Drive where the new gym is being built.

Councilor John Leahy asked if there had been any cuts made to the project, referencing a prominent rumor that the loading dock had been scrapped.

Radloff said the project is being built as designed and any alterations would not include things noticeable to the “end user.”

Councilor Rita Mercier asked if there had been any cost overruns so far.

“The contracts that we have subcontractors sign up on do not allow for any terms of escalation, any terms of added labor or anything or added costs due to labor or materials. So once we have bought them out, that’s the price that we have. The subcontractors may be incurring costs, depending on how they sign up their vendors, but those costs are not passed on to us,” Radloff said.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, councilors also:

– Discussed how to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds and recent public input received. An ARPA finance manager should be hired within the next 10 days.

Councilors approved:

– A $29,935 grant from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security to launch a body-worn camera pilot program for police officers.

– Mercier’s request for a drop box to be restored for residents looking to pay bills at the JFK Plaza entrance of City Hall.

– Jenness’ request to have an investigation on drainage issues around the crosswalk at the corner of Market and Palmer streets.

– Jenness’ request for a report on the current policies for maintaining the Riverwalk area, especially with winter snow removal.

– Councilor Vesna Nuon’s and Jenness’ motion requesting an update on the hiring of a permanent, full-time director of elections.

– Councilor Paul Ratha Yem’s motion to have the word “stop” painted on all streets with a stop sign throughout the city.

– Gitschier’s motion to have all Lowell High School Renovation Building Committee meetings aired live on LTC.

– Gitschier’s motion to have COVID-19 protocols for disinfecting all city buildings, schools, equipment, vehicles and common areas provided to the council.

– Gitschier’s motion requesting a report on the number of homeless people using the Lowell Transitional Living Center, Eliot Day Program, Life Connection Center or the non-congregate hotel program during recent cold weather.

– Gitschier’s motion requesting the current yard waste contract and future schedule for yard waste pickup be provided to councilors.

– Councilor Corey Robinson’s motion with Gitschier asking for an update on all fully funded positions that are currently vacant in the fiscal 2022 budget and how long they have been vacant.

– Robinson’s motion requesting information on the feasibility of installing solar panels at the Robinson School.

– Robinson’s motion requesting an update on the city’s plan to mitigate or eliminate the practice of brownouts within the fire department.

– Rourke’s motion calling for information on Rourke Bridge inspections and plans for the construction of a new bridge.

Source Google News – Read the original article

Lowell High building project moving along – Lowell Sun

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