METHUEN — The city will bring in an environmental consultant group to test and monitor the air quality at the high school while the renovation and expansion project is ongoing.
The Building Committee selected Universal Environmental Consultants of Framingham to conduct regular tests of the air at an estimated cost per year of $16,200. Members of the Building Committee accepted the recommendation of project manager Gino J. Baroni to take UEC because of the frequency of visits included in the bid.
“UEC is the recommendation because they visit every other week, and they have the lowest cost per visit,” he told the Building Committee Oct. 10.
According to the comparison produced by Baroni’s project management firm, Trident, ATC Associates of Woburn bid to perform several tests per week at an estimated cost of $76,860 per year. That cost included project management and technical and data review not provided by the other companies. OHI Engineering of Mansfield bid for one test per quarter and was estimated to cost $12,540 per year.
Baroni recommended UEC, he said, because OHI only came once per quarter, and charged $1,500 per visit for any extra trips to the high school. ATC would be there multiple times a week, but has much more expensive.
Over two years, the UEC job is estmiated to cost $32,400.
“The staff has been concerned about the air quality; have been for years,” said Arthur Nicholson, a member of the Building Authority and the special projects manager. He also was a longtime Methuen High School principal.
James Giuca, the current high school principal, has said the south wing of the high school, which is being gutted and renovated, is walled off from the north wing, where students in grades 10 through 12 are in class.
A new wing is being built just south of the field house that will hold an auditorium and cafeteria, and will connect to the south wing.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has guidelines that school districts may follow during construction. It recommends school districts “should implement containment procedures for dusts, gases, fumes and other pollutants created during construction of an Approved Project if the building is occupied by students, teachers or school department staff while such renovation and construction is occurring.”
Containment procedures should follow the most current edition of Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for Occupied Buildings Under Construction, an industry standard published by the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Inc.
The cost of air testing is included in the high school project’s cost and was recommended not to exceed $34,400.
Major construction on the high school began this summer after Consigli Construction Co. signed a contract with the city to finish the $100 million project. Last winter, the Building Authority, followed by the city government, decided to walk away from a contract with Dimeo Construction after being unable to agree with the company on a final price tag. City officials said they could not bridge a $6 million gap.
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