The Public Safety Building Committee wants to ensure that the community is well informed. Please review the Public Safety Building FAQ, meant to address your questions.
Public Safety Building Q&A
The Police and Fire Departments provide an essential service to the Town and to each resident and each resident benefits from the professionalism of these officers and firefighters. There is no way to avoid the cost for these services but we have tried as much as feasible to reduce this project’s construction costs to lower its impact to every resident and taxpayer.
The cost of this project should also be weighed against the potential liability that the existing Police trailer and Fire station impose on the Town and the real possibility of accident or injury occurring to Town personnel or others for which lawsuits and remedies could be significant and unpredictable.
- Architecture & OPM services
- Slab on grade foundation, no site work beyond building footprint
- On the Site of the Existing DPW with existing water and sewer connections 6 bays, no interior finishes, single Toilet & Shower area
- Fire protection, generator, minimal heating as the space is “unoccupied”
- On site trades including building erection, bid MGL c149
Completed in 2018
- 2 apparatus bays
- 5,385 GSF
- The site did not require well or septic.
- Construction Cost at bid was $2,385,550
- Construction Cost at end of project (including Change Orders) was
$2,589,020 ($481/ Sq Ft)
- Total Project Budget is $3,755,400 ($697/Sq Ft)
The committee has been appointed by and reports to the Select Board. Throughout the process the building committee has given updates and presentations to the Select Board and often times select-board members have taken part in the Building Committee meetings and design forums.
Spaces were added and deleted as appropriate as the design matured. Some of the design iterations considered included a two story design to minimize the footprint, however as costs of complying with ADA mandated elevators, stairs, and other fundamental design elements, the costs of that option was actually higher than the plan presented now. While there was not specific public voting on these design iterations, the open meetings offered those in attendance the opportunity to question or comment as the design progressed over time.
Some of the iterations are available on the web site to review. Others may not have been officially captured, as they never were more than schematic sketches, but the meeting minutes should show the tenor of the discussions that occurred.
The PSBC, in coordination with the Architect and OPM, have continually evaluated the design and have cut all non-functional and less functional spaces and have since cut into some functional space. There is no more to cut without sacrificing the overall Police & Fire functions and mission.
Some of the design decisions made to address the concerns raised and reduce cost are:
- Police Carport and Garage have been designated as Add/Alternates, allowing the committee to evaluate costs of these items at the time of
bid. They would only be accepted if they can be incorporated within the allowable budget.
- Meeting/Training/EOC room has been eliminated to provide for a 12-person shared PF/FD conference room and Emergency Operations
- Parking, Site lighting, site drainage and supporting infrastructure reductions
- Dispatch Room has been eliminated and the head-end Technology room reduced by half the size.
- Public Toilet rooms in the lobby have been removed reducing the State requirements for Public Water Supply Well.
- Reductions in the Toilet rooms and meeting rooms has decreased the required size of the Septic Systems.
- Three dedicated bunk room spaces have been eliminated.
- The lobby was reconfigured accordingly and as public spaces were reduced in the building as the large training/conference room was eliminated, public rest rooms were eliminated.
- The new apparatus bay was extended to make room for a handicapped accessible ramp to access the bay from the higher floor of the addition when the USDA loan program became an attractive option. The cost of the required extension is more than made up for in interest savings over the loan period.
- A detention area storage room and space for a potential future third cell was eliminated.
The Select Board took the opportunity in 2017 to task the Public Safety Building Research Committee with looking at both facilities. The Fire station is equally as old and does not support the needs of current firefighter operations. The septic system is out of date. The building lacks basic energy features leading to increased operational costs. The building lacks indoor air quality and basic separation of clean and dirty spaces exposing our volunteers to cancer causing known carcinogens. The opportunity to address these and many other issues in a single project is financially advantageous in the long term versus a separate contract to address the Fire Station at a later date. Bundling the work together minimizes disruption, increase bid/buying power and ensure that both facilities will be up to date for many years.
By combining the projects, there is a long term financial benefit to the Town as systems can be combined instead of duplicated and the use of the site maximized for future town needs such as the Department of Public Works and potentially future town offices.
Police facilities are highly specialized buildings with specific code requirements for issues such as seismic activity and security. While there are no suitable buildings currently on the market and available for consideration, both this committee and previous committees have inquired about the costs of adapting existing buildings for Police use. When considering the cost of renovation on top of the cost of acquisition, it is financially advantageous to purpose build a new building on town owned land.
Since the site is one town owned parcel, constructing a separate building on the same site still triggers certain code updates in the fire station unless the parcel is legally divided into separate lots of record. A combined and adjacent facility allows for common systems for fire suppression, water and septic, electrical and communications equipment, and the cost avoidance of not having to legally split the site into separate parcels should a police only facility be constructed on the same site. These savings outweigh the cost of separate projects in the long term to the Town and preserves the rest of the parcel for future Town development for other needs such as a new Department of Public Works facility.
The Committee continues to evaluate these and many other factors as the design evolves, remembering this is not an overnight process but an iterative process where each new scheme builds off the other. The Committee is investigating “early phase” scopes of work along with “deferred” scope that can be fit out later.
The list of upgrades and modifications is such that the total cost after upgrades does not represent a good value for the taxpayers, given the shorter life cycle typical of these buildings. Pre-Engineered Metal Building Systems (PMBS) are best to capture large, taller volumes of column free space but that is not the correct application for this type building. The architect has done many Public Safety facilities where the apparatus bays are PMBS but the remaining building is conventional frame, Ashburnham is an example.
- PMBS exteriors have a lower life cycle.
- Pre-engineered Metal Building System (PMBS) building relies on a
protective painted metal exterior finish which is not as durable and fades over time.
- The metal insulated panels have a thin 26 to 24 gauge metal cladding that is easily damaged.
- The quality of the metal windows that are part of the PMBS are also of less expensive variety & quality.
- Metal roofing will easily slide snow and requires additional snow guards or rails.
- It is also necessary to add perimeter wood or metal studs to obtain interior GWB finish in most areas.
- All the same interior construction & systems are still required, so any savings is just the differential cost of the exterior above ground envelope.
For our building, there would have been no cost savings to change the construction type of just (2) bays to PMBS. We would have been inserting another construction type, possibly another subcontractor, and varying levels of additional detailed construction to connect two different structural elements. Also the new apparatus bays did not need to be column free so conventional wood framing was as economical as steel framing.
- Parking, Site lighting, site drainage and supporting infrastructure reductions
- The radio tower and communication systems will be funded by the Community Host Agreement monies.
- Public Toilet rooms in the lobby have been removed reducing the State requirements for Public Water Supply Well.
- Reductions in the Toilet rooms and meeting rooms has decreased the required size of the Septic System. This reduces the cost of anticipated site development work.
While not a guarantee, bid packages on several other projects being handled by the OPM and Architect have been coming in under the projected cost, indicating that this is an advantageous time to bid and construct this type of project.
In May of 2018, at the Annual Town Meeting, the Committee presented information and asked the voters for $540K for Design and Construction Documents for an addition to the existing Fire Station. The voters approved the expenditure of $540K at the Annual Town Meeting and approved the expenditure at a subsequent 2-1/2 override ballot.
With those approvals, the Committee was renamed The Public Safety Building Committee and began the process by interviewing and selecting an Owners Project Manager (OPM) as required
by MA General Law. Then the Committee interviewed and selected an Architectural firm to begin the programming and design process. The design process began with the drawings shown to the voters at the May 2018 Annual Town Meeting.
- 03/2008 Study programmed square footage (sf) was 16,110 and included no additional Fire Department space. In 2008 estimated costs was $4.64M. In 2021 dollars this would equal approximately $8M
- 12/2017 Study program 15,430 sf and Total project cost of $7.24M (2018 bid date)
- 2019 Steel structures/modular buildings were considered where a partial build could be done off site, but many would not meet the necessary regulations required by the State.
Sponsorship by construction companies and local philanthropists were also explored but there was no interest shown
- 10/2019 Program 18,450 sf and Total project cost of $11.3M
- 01/2020 Program 16,081 sf and Total project cost of $9.6M
- 06/2020 Program reduced to 15,198, total projected cost $7.9M
- 07/2020 Construction and Soft-cost reductions, total projected cost $7.6M
- 08/2020 Continued value engineering design process, total projected cost $7,268,300
The Police station today occupies approximately 2,912 sf which is comprised of the existing station, a Conex trailer and records and archives in Town Hall. The existing facility lacks proper police, detainee, and public separation. The existing facility is nearly uninhabitable and beyond any level of economic repair for beneficial use.
The proposed facility will have improved safety and security with a sallyport, prisoner processing (booking) and cells (2), evidence processing and storage areas that comply with state regulations and guidelines. Collectively the new Police Department design will occupy
5,135 sf of dedicated space, or 4,356 sf if Police garage alternate is not constructed.
- Fire apparatus including a E3 (forestry truck) is stored outside in an unheated building all year requiring the water to be drained in the winter to prevent freezing. Light plant, pickup truck, emergency equipment trailers, and other apparatus are frequently stored
- Backup ambulance stored in inadequate conditions does not comply OEMS requirements.
- Large amounts of equipment and supplies are stored in areas such as the shower, boiler room, apparatus bays, training room, outside buildings and sheds.
- Improper storage for EMS medical supplies.
- No vehicle exhaust extraction system exposes Fire and EMS personnel and turnout gear to cancer causing carcinogens.
- Inadequate office space, EMS and Fire Prevention office is in the same room as all other station functions with no space for secure record storage.
- Inadequate bathroom facilities. The Septic system is extremely outdated and does not pass title 5. Water supply Well does not provide potable water, sand and rust comes out of the well consistently.
- Building Envelope is non-compliant and incapable of keeping wind and rain out of the building. Fire alarm system is not up to code. No Fire sprinkler system in the fire station.
- Radio tower is past its useful life span and has been temporarily repaired with guy wires. Tower is too short to provide adequate height for communications antennas.
The Fire Station remains unchanged in its square footage of 4,282 sf. To accommodate best practice in Fire Station Design, spaces will be repurposed to create separation of “clean”, “contaminated”, and public use spaces. The project will address the existing facility concerns
while providing new spaces for offices and an Emergency Operations Center.
- The Fire Departments proposed new space is 2,524 sf. and is comprised of 2 new ambulance and engine bays, administration and support spaces, and a Fire Prevention office.
- Collectively the new Police Department design will occupy 5,135 sf of dedicated space, or 4,356 sf if Police garage alternate is not constructed.
- There are 2,011 sf of Shared use spaces, corridors, mechanical and electrical rooms, toilets, a 12-person shared meeting space and emergency operations center (EOC), support spaces and structure.
The prevailing wage requirement for the State of Massachusetts also has a very significant impact to the overall cost of a public building project of this kind. The single highest cost line item of the project is the building code required fire suppression system including underground water tanks.
Several design changes have been made to minimize site development costs. The building has been raised by 14 inches and repositioned relative to the existing fire station structure to minimize site development costs due to a high existing water table.
Chapter 149 stipulates that only contractors and subcontractors certified by the State’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) can bid on the work. This limits competition, eliminates many smaller local firms. MGL c149 section 26-27 requires and enforces a strict “prevailing wage” or minimum wage that trade workers must be paid. As a matter of certification these firms are held to a higher standard of management practices and insurability which may lead to increased cost for the same work of another firm.
The building design includes a “solar ready roof” design to support future photovoltaic panels with additional electrical infrastructure ready to use should the Town obtain a future solar grant. The site design includes a base location, concrete pad and electrical infrastructure for an electrical vehicle recharging station that would be ready to use should the Town receive a grant for an ERV station.
The project team has been engaged with Unitil, the local utility provider based on recent local experience this project will be eligible for incentives and rebates based on the energy model created for the project.
While neither of these groups can commit to a dollar amount at this time, we do know from experience that these funds would likely be approved and reduce the overall project costs.
DPW will have responsibility to maintain the grounds of the facility as they do with other Town property. Every effort is being made to create plowing direction and snow storage areas, outside of the direct building area low-grow/no-mow grass seeds can be utilized to reduce maintenance costs.
Common and shared spaces include the Lobby, Conference Room/Emergency Operations Center, Interview Room (off Lobby), Day Rm/Kitchen, Mechanical & Electrical Rooms, Radio Room, Communications/Data Room, and Fire Pump Room.
Please note that addressing the needs of fire and police separately would require duplication of these spaces and a higher overall cost to the Town.
Breakdown of Square Footage for Ashby PSB
Statute requires separation by sight and sound of male and female detainees as well as minors from adult male or female prisoners. In the past, it was common that hold times in the station were limited and detainees would be transferred to the State Police relatively quickly. However, today with COVID 19 and changes to protocols, individuals are being held for longer periods in the local stations and the two cells provide the police department with the necessary flexibility to deal with the majority of situations that would be typical of a community like Ashby. It must also be noted, all persons in custody are processed through the Ashby Police station with the majority of these being released from this facility through the bail process.
There have been many instances where more than one person has been held in custody at the same time. As with any criminal activity where individuals must be placed in custody, this cannot be predicted with any reliability. A preliminary search of detention records since 2008 indicate approximately 35 instances where more than one detainee has been held in Ashby on a single day.
A second cell also provides for the ability for a cell to be decontaminated for any number of reasons whether due to contagions, damages caused by detainees or maintenance purposes.
Comparisons of other towns’ building costs
- USDA loan for 40yrs @ 2.125%
- State Bond bill where Ashby was earmarked for $6.0M dollars, however the funds have not yet been released, and may not be. We continue to work with State official to request release of any available funds, however we have been informed by our representatives that State funding for this project will not be considered until we have “shovel ready” plans in hand and the support of the community to proceed.
- The project team and Committee will continue work with Unitil and the Town’s Energy Efficiency Committee to seek additional grants and rebates for building materials and equipment such as making the building solar ready.
“CBA has designed and has had good experience with modular buildings in residential design for Housing Authorities. Modular Buildings are most efficient when you have multiple buildings of the same design. In singular building/ facilities they are not as efficient because of the lack of repeated construction.”
“Our experience with modular buildings includes the design & bidding of the Warren MA Police Headquarters and the Holland MA Senior Center.”
“For the Warren Police building we consulted with the (3) largest modular builders in Central & Western MA, we were provided all the information, details, costs and assurances that our design would be bid within our budget. However, no modular builders bid on the project.”
“Modular builders prefer to work with the same construction materials & techniques they have standardized on, and commercial construction can be different. For instance, modular wood frame buildings typically do not require the additional seismic bracing that an “Essential Facility” like a Police or Fire Station requires by code. A modular salesman may say they can build anything but it will eventually come down to the profitability of doing a One-off/ One-of-a kind type project with significant changes to their normal building process.”
“Also be aware that modular buildings have integral wood floor framing and want to sit over a basement or crawlspace. Neither is feasible on this site. Because of this condition the Police Sallyport, the Fire Engine/ Ambulance bays and the Police garage would all be slab on grade with conventional frame construction. This would reduce any modular square footage and any possible cost impact. The Booking, Interrogation and Holding spaces are also slab on grade with concrete block construction for safety & durability which would further reduce any possible modular construction area.”
“The Holland Senior Center was similarly designed and bid as a modular building with basement & crawlspaces. When bids were received, the lower bids were not modular construction. Again, with a One-off/ one-of-a-kind type building design the modular builders were not competitive. However, the winning bid utilized a panelized construction technique in place of a fully modular approach, which is valid for the Ashby Public Safety Building.”
“Panelized or prefabricated floors & walls consists of transportable sections of wood joist floors or stud walls with plywood attached that are built off-site by a company similar to a prefabricated wood truss mfr. By building these components off-site, MA prevailing wage does not apply. The wood frame floors and wood framed walls are shipped to the site and can be installed very rapidly. We have used this construction technique on several projects including the Hamilton Public Safety Complex very successfully and have designed the Ashby Public Safety Complex with long consistent wall lines to facilitate this construction option for the contractor.”
- USDA loan for 40yrs @ 2.125%
- FEMA grant up to $600,000
- State Bond bill where Ashby was earmarked for $6.0M dollars, however the funds have not yet been released, and may not be. We continue to work with State official to request release of any available funds
- The project team and Committee will continue work with Unitil and the Town’s Energy Efficiency Committee to seek additional grants and rebates for building materials and equipment such as making the building solar ready
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The Town is exposed to liability issues for staff, visitors, and detainees as indicated above. Lack of appropriate spaces and environmental conditions subject employees and equipment to improper conditions. Building Codes and OSHA requirements continually change, and the Town should be addressing those items.
from current budgets?
School debt service will continue for approximately 25 years.
Public Safety Concept, Design, and Additional Information:
Information on the overall concept, design, and insights are as follows (as of October 2020):
Public Safety Building Committee Purpose
The Public Safety Building Committee, acting through the Board of Selectmen, is responsible for the selection and oversight of design and construction professionals as required under the laws of the Commonwealth, to study, design, bid, and construct a combined public safety facility at the existing Fire Station site. The PSBC shall be subject to future approvals and funding at the direction of the select board as is customary. The PSBC shall be subject to all open meeting law requirements and operate under the laws of the Commonwealth and the Town’s by-laws.
Owners Project Manager
In accordance with the Chapter 149 Section 44A1/2 of MGL the Town was required to retain the services of a professional Owner’s Project Manager. The PSBC, acting through the BoS, solicited publicly, received and reviewed qualifications, conducted interviews and negotiated OPM services with Collier’s Int. Collier’s presented its staff with Anthony DiLuzio, as its Senior Project Manager. Anthony is certified under the Mass Certified Public Procurement Office and has more than 25 years of experience managing the design and construction of Police, Fire and combined Public Safety Facilities. The OPM will be responsible for developing costs, schedules, quality requirements for the project from it’s inception through final construction and occupancy.