Fairfield selectmen add additional oversight to building projects

FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectmen is looking to add an extra level of oversight to building committee projects.

A charge for the temporary Project Management Oversight Selection Committee was unanimously approved on Wednesday, with an aim of making sure all projects are on time and on budget, or that any “surprises” are discovered at the beginning of the project, not the end.

“This is a different approach that we’re looking at to kind of help with project management,” said First Selectman Mike Tetreau.

An owner’s representative, selected by the selectmen, would get involved in building projects at the outset, and keep the board informed of any issues. Typically, Tetreau said, the money to pay for the position will come off the project budget. “Overall, it will provide more support to the building committee.”

One thing that’s been learned, said Jim Bradley, chairman of the Penfield Building Committee who helped craft the charge, is that the committees need to start off with more information, better information and keep the selectmen and Board of Finance in the loop earlier in the process.

“If you get bad grades as a freshman, you’re not going to get a 4.0 as senior,” Bradley said. “The same is true in construction.”

A five-member committee will be appointed and will put out a request for proposals for a person or firm to serve as the town’s owner representative.

The Smith Richardson Clubhouse Building Committee will be the first to use the new approach.

“At some point, we will have a firm hired in this role to work for the town on all our projects,” Tetreau said. “If we don’t like how they perform, then we remove them from all our projects. At some point, we’d also like to see them on the school projects. We thought it would be good to test it on a town project first.”

“I think what you’re proposing will bring a lot of consistency,” Selectman Laurie McArdle said.

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