'Stay the course' on North Smithfield municipal bonding

'Stay the course' on North Smithfield municipal bonding

With all of the criticism going on by a select few people in town, I’d like to share my thoughts on a few items surrounding their issues, relating to the Municipal Bond.
As you know there are three people who are now making noise about the Municipal Bond process and specifically, the reevaluation of the facilities to be considered for renovations under the bond referendum. Two of the individuals were given the opportunity to come before the task force and give their opinions as to how the process took place and answer any questions asked. The two declined the opportunity. Now they wish to meet and discuss with appointees from the council and the Task Force? No way will we, nor should we make ourselves available to them at this time. No good can come from this process. The detractors simply want to incite negativity in the community and inflame the Taxpayers. I offered to meet with them individually. I can produce an email sent to Mr. Flaherty extending my time to sit with them. No response! I Spoke to Mr. Rapko on the phone and offered him the same opportunity. No response! We have sought to unite and educate. They have sought to divide and misrepresent the truth. My invitation still remains open but I know they will not meet with me.
The council wishes to end the animosity between them and our committee. I can tell you from my stand point none exists on our side but it’s their goal to create division between the Town Council and our board by questioning the process. They seek to divide not unite. Don’t be fooled by their mudslinging, bullying tactics. What they wish, is to stop the truth from coming out.
We were appointed by this Town Council to evaluate the issues surrounding the Municipal Bond process and make recommendations to you. We produced a comprehensive report detailing our activities and findings without placing blame on anyone, or any firm, or any group involved. The truth of the matter is that there were many to blame for the situation we are in today, but we felt it best to get the project on track without creating any bad blood. That’s what we’re trying to do but there are some in town who misrepresent the truth, manipulate facts, and conveniently use social media as their platform to attack the process without knowing the facts surrounding the issues.
They continue to tell the people who will listen to them that the cost of this study is 48k, and is not necessary, and is just going to turn out the same results as the original study.
The truth of the matter is that the consultant has a “not to exceed” contract which we believe will come in significantly less. This is money well spent. If you don’t spend it now it will cost you later. As stated by one of the other members of the Task Force, “Good work is not cheap, and cheap work is not good”.
I can assure you that this process was absolutely necessary to put this project back on course. Why hire another consultant? What other options did we have? We had a budget that never fit the scope of work. The Architect hired had NO municipal renovation or new municipal construction experience, and only did a one room renovation to the common space of a school. To further complicate matters, the plans he produced for construction do not meet code. You could never have pulled a building permit with those plans, and yet he was entrusted with an extremely complicated project and process. Further, we paid more than we should have for the services rendered, and we have documents we can’t use.
It’s like hiring a lawnmower mechanic to fix your car. Complicate that with a totally inexperienced oversight board relating to buildings, and you have a disaster. Who in this Town can put together an appropriate scope and firm estimate to move this project forward? Not the project Architect, not the so called Project Manager hired by the PBIC. The answer is NO ONE!
We had the advantage of hindsight, and we interviewed and evaluated the entire flawed process.
We chose to recommend taking another look with an architect who has done hundreds of municipal jobs. The whole thought process was to evaluate existing conditions, and then make a proper recommendation for scope that meets the remaining budget. We wanted someone who could look at this with a new set of eyes. We have that firm. There is no other intelligent choice. There is no other way to get this project back on track unless the budget matches the scope. I can assure you that the process is moving forward very nicely. STAY THE COURSE and TRUST THE PROCESS!
Trust this committee, we have a proven track record in town bringing in projects on time and within the budget! All together the experience of the members of the Task Force exceed hundreds of millions of dollars of construction experience and diversity in the construction related field.
The people who complain about the process have No architectural, engineering, or professional experience in this venue. ZERO municipal construction experience, Zero commercial construction experience, Zero office construction experience, Zero large residential construction experience, Zero Space planning experience and so on. So why give their opinions any creditability? They are just inexperienced opinions. Everyone has one! What makes their opinion more valuable than any other Taxpayer? Their opinions are not even accurate.
I watched the You tube video of the last council meeting of 8-21-17, where by Mr. Clifford, addressed the council. He implies that he has a right to speak because he pays taxes. Everyone’s opinion should be heard regardless of how much taxes they pay. However people need to speak the truth!
The detractors all manipulate the truth.
Mr. Clifford was again misrepresenting the facts of one of our meetings. We never discussed getting a cost estimate to put an addition on Andrews’s school. The municipal bond was never intended to perform any construction work at any of the school facilities. It is not our decision to determine where the school department resides, but to that end it makes more sense for them to reside on campus. And for the record I don’t believe KD is actually large enough to house the School Administration and their staff. That’s my personal opinion. We’ll see what the study shows.
And just to be clear, our consultant is not nor has he ever been engaged to evaluate blowing out the back of Andrews’s school. Mr Clifford takes things out of context and only hears what he wants to hear. He speaks about a hidden agenda, is he kidding? What possible hidden agenda could there be? If Mr Clifford had sat down with me he would know and understand where this project is going. As to the square footage of Kendal dean in his argument he claims that KD has 17,000 sf of space. Our consultant has not yet verified any square footage with us. Some of this space is not usable for office space. Some of the lower level in my opinion should never be used for habitable office space. Would you like to work in an environment with little to no natural light? I don't think so.
The figures he used were produced by the previous architect, which is all encompassing. Those figures were based on dimensions of outside face of exterior wall to outside face of exterior wall. Those figures do not represent USABLE square footages. They do not take into consideration wall spaces, chases, structural components, stairwells, and egress corridors, mechanical and electrical spaces and so on. Take all of that into consideration and we have much less habitable space then you think.
Mr. Clifford referred to the space in KD as opulent space. Opulence means luxurious, rich or lavish. (Just another way to manipulate the truth). Have anyone of you ever seen or been in luxurious or lavish municipal facilities? I certainly have not and I have visited more than most of you. I can assure you that the renovations planned under this Municipal Bond referendum, will be modest but comfortable, functional and allow for expansion as much as serve this community for the next 30 years and beyond.
In the previous plan prepared by the original Architect hired by the previous Town Council, they were cramming people into a space with no thought for future expansion, no thought about convenience for the general public, and the lack of compliance to codes.
Why not let our consultant do his investigation, before jumping to conclusions. Mr Clifford and others continue to take things out of context in an effort to mislead the public. Don’t be fooled by their manipulation of facts and figures.
As to Mr. Flaherty, in an article in The Valley Breeze dated April 27th (Letter to the editor), he indicated that the bids for the municipal bond repairs received nearly a year ago came in approximately $1,000,000. Over budget or as he put it, 10% over budget. That’s completely false. The low combined bid was $5,998,900.00 including alternates (some of which are very necessary), the money from the bond allocated for this work was $3,700,300., for construction. That’s $2,298,600. Over budget. By my math that put the bids at 49.99% over budget not 10%.
Are these the kind of people you want to listen to? Stay the course and trust the process.
Our committee is not persuaded by their intimidation tactics. We remain committed to follow the process through and protect the Taxpayer’s interest.
This evaluation process will be completed sometime in November. At that time our committee will make a recommendation to move this forward to bidding and construction with a scope that matches a budget and a timeline for completion. I would anticipate that if there are no delays in the process then this project can be under construction in the spring and completed in winter of 2018/2019 with occupancy by spring of 2019 at the latest.
Stay the course you will be happy in the end.

David Chamberland
North Smithfield Building Review Task Force Member