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Mount Greylock Turf Field Bids Come in Higher than Hoped
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
01:00PM / Friday, September 20, 2019
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Dan Caplinger, right, opens sealed bids as fellow committee member Al Terranova looks on.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School District opened three bids Friday morning for proposed projects to improve athletic fields at the middle-high school.
 
All three were well above the figures targeted by the School Committee for the projects.
 
Clark Construction of Westfield, Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare of Chicopee and RAD Sports of Rockland submitted bids ranging from $2.847 million to $2.984 million — an average of about $2.901 million — to install a new artificial turf playing field and make requirements to existing fields required under the Americans With Disabilities Act and Title IX.
 
When it decided in May to put the projects out to bid, the School Committee identified a target of $2.1 million for the work, based on the projections of the district's architect.
 
The committee's intention is to fund the work from the proceeds of a $5 million capital gift given by Williams College at the start of the district's $64 million addition/renovation project at Mount Greylock.
 
Field work — including that required under the ADA and Title IX — was left out of the main building project because the Massachusetts School Building Authority caps the amount of money that can be spent on "site work" in a Massachusetts School Building Authority project. The Mount Greylock project reached that cap long before the fields were included.
 
Although the original Williams College gift has appreciated as part of the college's endowment while waiting to be spent by the district, the School Committee has identified other needs it hopes to address with the proceeds: replacing the district administration offices that were housed in the old Mount Greylock (another expense outside the MSBA cost-sharing plan) and creating a fund for future large capital needs (new roofs, boilers, etc.).
 
The district's Phase 2 subcommittee, which developed plans for the field improvements and drafted the RFP issued by the regional school district, is scheduled to meet Monday at 6:15 p.m. to consider the bids.
 
"I think the expectation is the subcommittee will consider the bids and, if so inclined, make a recommendation to the full committee," said Williamstown's Dan Caplinger, who serves on the elected School Committee and the appointed Phase 2 subcommittee.
 
The full School Committee is set to meet again on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m.
 
Cost aside, the proposal to install an artificial turf field has generated considerable opposition in the community from critics who point to uncertainty over the health risk associated with artificial turf and impact on the environment from the plastic "grass" and "crumb rubber" infill, made from recycled tires.
 
On Friday, two critics of the planned artificial turf field attended the bid opening: Stephanie Boyd and Ann O'Connor — each an elected official in Williamstown but not acting in their official capacities on the Planning Board and Select Board, respectively.
 
Boyd asked Caplinger whether there would be an opportunity for public comment at the Sept. 26 special meeting of the School Committee. He said he did not know, as no agenda was posted yet, but he encouraged her to reach out to School Committee Chairwoman Regina DiLego to ask for a public comment agenda item.
 
Whichever way the seven School Committee members come down on the pros and cons of artificial turf, the fiscal ramifications of Friday's bid opening likely will be significant.
 
Clark Construction came in with the low bid, $2.847 million, of which $1.332 million was specified for procurement and installation of the turf field. Mountain View's bid was $2.895 million ($1.054 million for the turf field). RAD Sports' bid was $2.984 million ($1.532 million for the field).
 
The district's request for proposals also included two "add alternates" for the bid: installation of a quarter-mile track on a different parcel than the turf field and utilization of BrockFill, an organic alternative to the crumb rubber typically used as infill on contemporary artificial turf fields.
 
There was considerably more variation in the quotes on the add alternates than on the "base bid."
 
For the track, the bids were: $549,000 (Clark), $650,000 (Mountain View) and $879,000 (R.A.D. Sports).
 
For the BrockFill infill alternative, the bids were: $153,000 (Clark), $64,500 (Mountain View) and $130,000 (RAD Sports).
 
The add alternate process allows the School Committee to accept only the base bid or the base bid in combination with one or more of the alternates. Likewise, bidders can choose to make a bid or not for the add alternate; in this case, each one did.
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