All summer residents of Berlin have wondered aloud why the Berlin High School project has not moved along and there has been little or no progress.
The answer is now known.
Mayor Adam Salina said Friday night that he will ask the Town Council to vote to remove the project team and start over with another construction team.
Thursday night, the Public Building Commission moved to send the project back to the Town Council after the construction team came in with an estimate 11 percent over the allotted amount of money approved at referendum.
"We fully thought this would be in two phases, Phase I was the pre-fab building and swing space and the original amount was 30 to 35 percent over budget," Salina said. "If they are over budget this early I don't expect them to get back under budget later.
"Quite frankly, I am disgusted, outraged and embarrasses that this team could not do the job they promised. The PBC has moved it back to us and it will be on the agenda for the Sept. 11 meeting but I'm not sure what the next step is. What I can tell you is this. We have lost all confidence in this team and we need a new team to do this project right. I only have one vote but this is the largest project of our generation. There is no way we are going to cut corners or lower our standards. We will not have a sub-par project."
The Construction team consists of architect Silver, Petrucelli and Associates, FIP is the construction manager and Gilbane is the project manager.
"I'm not exactly sure what will happen next but our corporation counsel Bob Webber is examining all of the contracts," Salina said. "Patience has worn thin and in order to proceed there needs to be a drastic change. There have been delays all the way along. To stop the bleeding, we need a new team."
The town voted at referendum to pay almost $70 million for a complete renovation project of the aging high school. The project is called "build-as-new" which means everything in the high school would be gutted and renovated as new.
"You pay professionals because they know what they are doing," Salina said. "You enter into contracts with professionals because you have confidence they will get the job done. The bottom line is they have come up short and made excuses almost from day one. They kept telling us there was a little delay here but they would make it up there. We need to bring someone in who can get it done because they have proven they can't get it done."
Salina said there has been several times where the plug was almost pulled on this construction group but it was decided to see how things played out.
"You always want the process to go smoothly," Salina said. "They were over budget right out of the box so we adjusted and scaled back but it still met the OCR (Office of Civil Rights) and NEASC (New England Association of Secondary Schools) specs. We all wanted them to get the job done but they have shown that can't happen."
At the PBC meeting Thursday night, architect Dean Petrucelli told the commissioners that every cut that could be made had been made already and they were still well over budget.
Salina said he knows he will feel the wrath of the people who voted for the renovation but says he believes this is the right thing to do.
"I personally do not feel comfortable cutting corners and trying to squeeze something into the space," he said. "It has to be done right. The last thing, me included, do not want to see this project go backwards. We have to go back to all those parents, the people in 'Yes for BHS', so many people who have been working on this literally for years and tell them we have to do this right."