By Alex Lippa
---- — The city is about to put a face on the effort to build a new school to replace the deteriorated Hunking School.
Haverhill is in the process of choosing the person who will oversee a feasibility study and potentially the construction of the new school.
City officials will accept bids from people interested in becoming the owner’s project manager until next week, and are expected to name a manager by February.
“We are waiting for the deadline to get here and then that is really the kickoff to things,” Superintendent James Scully said of Haverhill’s effort to build the school. “Then we will start to narrow it down.”
Bids close for the project manager position on Dec. 3. After the bidding is closed, there is a lengthy process to determine who the job goes to.
“Once the bids are in, the (city’s) building committee will review all of them,” said Bob DeFusco, purchasing director for Haverhill. “By mid-January, we will request a candidate.”
The candidate then has to be approved by the Massachusetts School Board Authority’s Owner’s Project Manager Review Panel, a board which includes former Lawrence Mayor Mike Sullivan. The city hopes the board will approve its manager candidate at a Feb. 4 meeting.
In the request for bids for a project manager, the city estimated the feasibility study will last 12 to 15 months. The manager must accomplish several things during the study, among them determining the location of the new school, determining the size of the building and estimating the cost of the project.
Depending on how the study goes, and if the city approves funding for the school, the manager may be kept on through the construction and completion of the project.
In their bids, interested companies must identify the person who would be the project manager. That individual must have had at least seven years of experience in supervising construction of public buildings.
The city’s building committee must use strict criteria when it comes to narrowing down its manager candidates. Most of the criteria involves a candidate’s documented previous performances on similar projects and his relationship with contractors he has worked with. Other factors include knowledge of the state’s building codes and the candidate’s financial stability and management approach.
The project manager will receive $150,000 of the $800,000 which has been budgeted for the feasibility study. After the manager is chosen, the building committee will search for a designer. The city has budgeted $520,000 for that job. DeFusco expects that position to be filled by May.
Once the study is complete, the city estimates it would take up to a year for the designer to complete his work and for the construction bid to be handed out. Officials estimate it would take two years to build the school.
A year ago, about 140 Hunking sixth-graders were moved to the formerly vacant Bartlett School, after problems were discovered with a section of the foundation under Hunking’s north wing. Those problems raised fears that a portion of the building could collapse.
Temporary repairs to the Huinking foundation were completed last summer, which allowed all students to return to the building for the current school year. The repairs are expected to make the building safe for at least four years. In the meantime, Haverhill wants to build a replacement school.