A delegation from the Fire Station Building Committee is scheduled to interview representatives of four architectural firms bidding for the design of the planned facility next Thursday.
Town Manager Sarah Stanton, who chairs the Building Committee, told the group at its first meeting on Wednesday that she hopes the Select Board will receive a recommendation at its March 13 meeting so negotiations can begin for the design contract.
Funding for the design was approved by the 2022 Annual Town Meeting. The process is critical to the project because the site at 139 The Great Road is within the Bedford Historic District and is on a slope.
Stanton said the request for quotes was issued on Jan. 25, and out of 35 responses seeking additional information, five firms submitted bids. One of them was eliminated because it did not meet qualifications, she added.
Jeff Cohen, one of six at-large members of the Building Committee, will join Stanton, Fire Chief David Grunes, Facilities Director Taissir Alani, and a representative of PMA Consultants, the owner’s project management firm, in conducting the interviews.
Each candidate will receive the same seven questions, Stanton said, and each interview will take 60-75 minutes. Then the subcommittee will rank the firms and make a recommendation, she said.
Asked about the project timetable, Stanton said initial targets were set back by an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the legality of the site acquisition and a Special Town Meeting petitioners article that, if approved, would have halted the planning process. Building Committee member Nina Tate asked if more challenges are anticipated, and Stanton replied, “I sincerely hope not.”
The schedule, which at one point targeted the 2023 Special Town Meeting for a construction article, is under re-evaluation, Stanton said.
“The best thing is to have good, complete documents,” said Building Committee member Angelo Colasante about the design.
“We want to make sure we get it right before we go out for bids,” said Steve Rusteika, executive director of PMA Consultants.
Stanton also stressed the need for sufficient time to work with neighbors, the community at large, and the Historic District Committee.
Besides the at-large members, Stanton, Alani, Grunes, and the owner’s project manager, the Building Committee includes Fire Department Capt. Mark Sullivan, an additional firefighter, rotating according to specialty, and Charlie Ticotsky, Assistant to the Town Manager. The committee will meet monthly until summer, when frequency will increase.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, officials from PMA Consultants briefed the committee on their role.
Brian DeFilippis, senior director of the firm’s Boston office, said PMA takes “a holistic view,” and plans to issue daily, weekly, and monthly project reports; manage the budgets; work with the architect; coordinate with town departments and boards; oversee inspections testing and change orders; review construction documents and invoices, and confirm prequalification of general contractors and subcontractors.
The project manager has reviewed information on the building now occupying the site and other current information, and will confer with Fire Department representatives to review specific needs, he said.
“We pride ourselves on being your trusted advisor,” said DeFilippis, noting that his firm has been involved with 14 new fire station projects in the region over the past 17 years.
Also attending the initial meeting was Karina Pena, a civil engineer and senior associate with PMA.
Building Committee member Jeffrey Dearing asked if the planning anticipates local population changes. “We did a study of future growth,” Stanton said, acknowledging that it predated the 2022 proposal for 139 housing units off Carlisle Road. Grunes noted that the request for quotes asked designers to anticipate future needs.
Stanton noted that members of the Fire Department have been visiting some newer fire stations in the area, and she encouraged Building Committee members to join them. She added that one question the visitors ask their hosts is what features do they regret not including in their projects.