The Marion Board of Selectmen spent the majority of its day on Monday in three separate interviews of engineers bidding to design a proposed Department of Public Works operations facility off Benson Brook Road.
The three firms were distinct in size proportionate to local versus regional. The in-town bidder, Saltonstall Architects, Inc., interviewed at noon, followed at 1:30 pm by Boston-based CBI Consulting LLC, followed at 3:00 pm by New York-based DiGiorgio Associates, LLC.
Because two of Marion’s three selectmen, Chairperson Randy Parker and Vice Chairperson John Waterman, wished to participate in the interview, the 11:30 am meeting was conducted as a public meeting and recorded by ORCTV at Police headquarters. Attending from the DPW was Director David Willett, Office Manager Becky Tilden, and Engineering Manager Meghan Davis. Town Administrator Jay McGrail presided over the interviews.
Willett greeted each of the applicants for the job with a summary of parameters including three major components: the storage, parking, wash down of equipment, the fact this is essentially a “budget-controlled job,” and the location, which will be either behind or in front of the town’s wastewater treatment plant on Benson Brook Road.
Likewise, Waterman took the opportunity to introduce the gravity of the financial concerns, lest it be considered rhetoric. He summarized ongoing challenges with water and sewer rates, an estimated $9.5 million in debt to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment Plant and a caution that a design that can pass on Town Meeting floor is imperative. Waterman asked each applicant to consider ways to drive down the $3 million price tag, and to think creatively in terms of a project that can be completed in phases and over time. “If we can get it done for $2 million over several years, I would be ecstatic. A durable salt shed at $500,000 boggles my mind; $1 million for site improvement, that boggles my mind,” he said.
Acknowledging that the construction engineers are the ones who know, Waterman asked if it makes sense to go with a prefabricated structure like those marketed by Morton. “I’m convinced this is something we need to do in phases. We’re not going to have the money to get this done in one step,” he said.
Longtime Marion architect Will Saltonstall, accompanied in his interview by engineering partner Wayne Mattson, arrived fully cognizant of the town’s challenges, as is guaranteed by his position as chairperson of Marion’s Planning Board.
After introducing his company as a 40-year-old firm started by his father, Bill Saltonstall, Will Saltonstall emphasized the advantages of his all-local team including Mattson, engineer Bob Field of Mattapoisett, and Peter Bradley, president of Hingham-based PM&C – experts in cost estimation and project management. While Saltonstall is primarily known for residential work, these past 15 years his firm has been designing industrial projects.
Mattson, the owner of Griffith and Vary, Inc. since 2005, brings the vital public sector experience to the Saltonstall team. A licensed mechanical engineer, Mattson did design work for Durfee High School, the Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School’s diesel program (including 10-wheel dump trucks, payload excavators, and tractor vehicles), and the Plymouth DPW.
“We want the owner, Marion, to use us as a resource. If you have ideas you want to bounce off of us, consider us a resource to think out loud. We want to make sure you have full knowledge,” said Mattson. “I’ll be the face of Griffin and Vary; I’ll be the person in charge. I’ll be sitting next to Will.”
Saltonstall, who would be the face of the operation with graphic artist TJ Wilbur assisting, discussed a three-dimensional rendering software so that the townspeople “can know what it looks like.
“Our strength as professionals is navigating the scene. We also understand that part of our role is to be the heavy,” said Saltonstall, alluding to the difference between want and need.
Further details were discussed before a lunch break prepared the minds to interact with CBI, a Socotec company represented by principals Wayne Lawson and Steven Watchorn.
Watchorn asked about the existing DPW, and Parker explained that while the town has short-term plans to save the best piece of the building for marine storage, that site will have nothing to do with the new DPW site. Logistical discussion ensued around a phasing-in of fueling facilities and a salt shed.
Lawson, a structural engineer, said CBI has a 34-person staff, its own field engineers, uses Code Red as a building-code consultant, and PM&C as cost estimator. Michael Teller would be the principal in charge of the Marion DPW project. CBI, according to Lawson, has completed over 45 DPW projects; 65 percent of the company’s projects are for the public sector.
“We’re often going up against the new school or the new police station. Just understanding that is necessary to having a successful project,” said Watchorn. “We want to understand both the objective and subjective requirements.”
McGrail told the CBI representatives, “We need help deciding which site is the best.”
The present DPW facility uses 1.5 acres of the existing 2-acre site. Parker said he prefers the site behind the wastewater treatment plant and that Willett prefers out front for the DPW, but all three applicants agreed that both sites are more than large enough. And Willett described them as relatively flat.
Geotechnical analysis of the sites is “absolutely step one,” according to Lawson. Beyond eliminating underground complications and avoiding wetlands infringement, logistics such as three-phase power, water, and sewer will all be considered.
“The DPW is really a lightweight department and does not perform complex services,” said Willett, limiting basic needs to a pre-fabrication type of building with a mezzanine, an office and men’s and ladies’ rooms to accommodate a two-person administrative staff. “The rest of the operations run out of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.”
Willett told CBI he only needs access to a common area to meet with personnel and distribute assignments. “There won’t be any training in there; we have other facilities,” he said.
A daily challenge is washing down vehicles to keep them from rotting out.
“Just overlaying these two sites with the existing site, we can come up with something here,” said Watchorn, who walked the town employees through pages of projects completed for other towns in Massachusetts.
CBI said it can have a design proposal ready for March.
Engineers Brian Novelline, senior vice president, and Edward DiSalvio represented DiGiorgio Associates, Inc., a LiRo Group company with headquarters in New York City, a 35-year-old Boston branch with 50 professional staffers, and the resources of 900 staff spread about 16 offices.
The company boasts over 30 DPW facilities designed in Massachusetts alone. “It’s not build it and move on, we really want to build that relationship with the town,” said Novelline, who emphasized “one-stop shopping” that “eliminates the need for subcontracting (and) eliminates finger pointing.”
Novelline said no junior representatives will be assigned to visit Marion’s job site.
Like the prior two bidders, DiGiorgio said it has extensive experience in Chapter 149 and 149A projects. Under DiGiorgio, all architecture and engineering (with the exception of civil engineering) is done in-house.
DiSalvio told Marion officials that Solar Mass, a state-administered, incentive-based payment or bill-credit program can be of assistance, and DiGiorgio staff can help the town apply for the program. He said the company engaged Revere in the program, which is based on how much energy is used and how much sold back to the grid. DiSalvio also mentioned net-zero energy rebates.
DiGiorgio presented many examples of projects of varying size and style in a booklet with maps of Marion’s proposed sites. It also included a variety of fueling stations and salt storage sheds. “There are some I wouldn’t recommend in this neck of the woods … they just wouldn’t last as long in the New England environment,” said DiSalvio.
Novelline said that DiGiorgio can assist in construction management if Marion decides to do some of the construction itself as a cost-cutting measure. DiGiorgio is in regular partnership with a general-contracting sister company.
DiSalvio said DiGiorgio goes directly to manufacturers to achieve detailed cost estimates. “We’re getting real prevailing-wage rates for our projects,” he said. Novelline said that results in “hard bid numbers. You don’t have to get more money at Town Meeting. It’s a hard-bid estimation that you get from us.”
DiGiorgio’s representatives ran out of presentation time without leaving any for a proper question-and-answer segment, but the interview was conversational, and questions were asked and comments made throughout. Novelline offered to follow up with a Zoom meeting.
McGrail told the selectmen he will meet with Willett to discuss the bids and report back to them with a decision.
Marion Board of Selectmen
By Mick Colageo