Osborn Hill walkway in need of more funding
Published 12:18 pm, Thursday, December 22, 2016
FAIRFIELD — An enclosed walkway at Osborn Hill Elementary School has been in the works for several years, but the direction and cost of the project — toward a brick and glass or a translucent wall panel design — remains an open question.
The “brick and mortar” option’s main selling point at Wednesday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting was longevity and durability, suggesting better value. But using semiopaque wall panels could cut the initial construction cost for the enclosed walkway by nearly $200,000.
The original plan called for the brick and glass design, but the cost of the translucent wall panel walkway was assessed as a redesign option. Both options meet state security standards developed in 2014, Architect Bill Silver, of Silver Petrucelli & Associates said, but he called the brick and glass construction a “much more intimidating security barrier.”
The Osborn Hill Building Committee is in favor of the original design and is requesting an additional $475,000 for construction costs, Chair Kimberly Marshall said at the Dec. 21 meeting. The building committee has fielded construction bids for the past three years, most recently receiving low bids of $677,400 for the brick option and $483,960 for the translucent panel design in 2016.
Silver said the original option matches the design of the elementary school and the redesign would be a secure but lighter construction. He identified key differences as better durability, longevity, value and aesthetic consistency for the brick and glass design.
Silver added translucent panels are rarely used at ground level for elementary schools.
Selectmen gravitated toward the cost-saving option, but expressed remaining concerns about the look and safety of the project. Selectman Christopher Tymniak requested a visual of the panel redesign, while First Selectman Michael Tetreau requested local police and fire departments input on the options.
“I just would like the support of the police,” Tetreau said. “To me, the safety component is a critical piece of information.”
Tymniak called the translucent panel design a good option that could provide “tangible” savings, offer a less disruptive construction timeline and match safety needs.
Both options meet state security standards developed in 2014, Silver said, but he called the brick and glass construction a “much more intimidating security barrier.”
The selectmen voted unanimously to postpone a vote on the funding to the board’s next meeting, Jan. 4, when local police and fire department input and a visual representation of the translucent panel redesign could be made available.
Either option would require additional funds and an accompanying vote from town governing bodies.
Following the Board of Selectmen’s vote, the funding would still require Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting approval.