Essex Town Administrator’s Report For The Week Of April 13 Part 1


Review of Draft Host Community Agreement for Retail Marijuana

At the last month’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting, the board agreed that all town officials, boards, and commissions named by the Host Community Agreement Advisory Committee in the draft Host Community Agreement for a retail marijuana dispensary proposed at 242 John Wise Avenue should have a chance to comment on their proposed roles before the document moves on to the negotiation phase.  Also, individual selectmen desired additional time to digest the lengthy document, which was drafted by the committee after lengthy research from other communities in Massachusetts and New England to understand “best practices” with retail cannabis in towns and how these agreements can effectively address issues that come up when legalized recreational marijuana is sold in towns like Essex.

Regular Sanitization of Fire and Police Offices and other Spaces

With town buildings closed to the public, those employees still working in most buildings take daily precautions to keep surfaces sanitized, according to the report.  However, fire and police department headquarters has a variety of first responders and others constantly coming and going after potential frequent exposure to the public.  Because of this, the town has arranged for a professional cleaning service to contact the Police Chief Paul Francis to

arrange to sanitize all high-touch areas of the headquarters building, the administrative trailer, and vehicles on a regular basis.  Zubricki reported the town will use its property budget to pay for this service and we will transfer blanket insurance funds to that budget if that is needed by fiscal year’s end.  The report also said the town will bring on additional, regular custodial assistance with the help of school district custodians.  Since these workers are being paid their full wages but do not necessarily have the normal slate of school custodial tasks, the district is providing their services to the town at no cost.

Use of Remote Connections for Continuity of Operations

The COVID-19 crisis has demanded certain remote work options for certain employees and our centralized, virtualized environment has been very conducive to fulfilling those needs.  We use encrypted tunnels and two-factor authentication to log into remote Windows desktops hosted on our central server.  The town also has benefit of the professional IT staff in the town of Danvers to assist with higher-level needs should they arise.

Completion of LED Street Light Conversion Work

The Town Administrator’s Report for this week said all contracted public LED streetlight, spotlight, and parking lot light conversion work was completed as of March 23.  Work had been delayed due to one shipment of materials having been ordered incorrectly by our consultant, causing our contractor to delay the completion of installation until the materials arrived.

The delay actually allowed town officials to receive feedback from people in certain neighborhoods with respect to glare from specific lights.  The installer made all necessary adjustments in these cases as part of their final work in town.  Zubricki is now working with the consultant to get the incorrect fixtures returned for credit and to help us process the necessary grant and utility incentive paperwork, for full reimbursement.  All work has been completely funded by grants and incentives, which makes the return on investment instantaneous.  Within a few weeks, National Grid will conduct a post-installation survey and the town’s electricity bills will be credited for this lower power consuming style of lighting back to the installation completion date.  Zubricki will continue to process all of the necessary closeout paperwork with MAPC, the Green Communities Program, and National Grid.

Public Safety Facility Project Update

Last month Zubricki reported to the BOS that the construction contractor for the new public safety headquarters building project at John Wise Avenue reported an unanticipated snag when it hit bedrock in the site’s preparation phase that was much more challenging that had been planned.  Geotechnical experts anticipated the need to remove boulders from along foundation footing and wall excavations. However, in certain areas, the rock encountered during drilling was not boulders, but hard ledge.  While the project did carry a certain quantity of ledge removal at a unit price, that quantity was far exceeded during actual work.  As such, it is necessary to compensate the contractor for the extra work. We will not know the full value of this change order until all rock has been removed. This added cost is estimated to be approximately $70,000, but confirmation of that won’t come until all rock is removed and our professionals have fully vetted the contractor’s proposal.

Because of this, the contractor had asked for an extension on the contract (which ties payment milestones to a timely delivery of the overall project).  The board discussed in the past the concept of extending the public safety facility project completion date through the end of January, 2021.  The extension was to allow the contractor to absorb most small setbacks and would really only mean moving into the new facility at the beginning of February, 2021, as opposed to mid-January. More recently, our contractor has indicated that even more time

may be desired, through late-March, 2021. While the exact date for building occupation is not critical to the Town, going beyond the end of January, 2021 has much more of a potential to require the payment of additional project carrying costs.

At a past meeting, the Board asked Chairman Spinney, Town Building Committee Chairman O’Donnell, and Zubricki to work with our contractor and our project professionals to arrive at a proposal that provides the extra time, but with a minimum of carrying costs.  Extending the builder’s risk policy for sixty days (the months of February and March, 2021) will cost the town approximately $3,500.  While the contractor is not looking to be paid for its “General Conditions” during the extension period, the project manager will require about $70,000 for full coverage and our architect will require an estimated $30,000.  This brings the carrying cost of the extension to a total of $103,500, if full coverage is desired.  However, there may be a way to complete the project with only part-time coverage.  The town is waiting for the contractor to confirm some dates (which may offer an improved outlook) and it is possible that the COVID-19 crisis will force other delays.

In his update, Zubricki also reported on the status of construction.  The project contractor is now starting to wrap up work on foundation footings and walls and is moving on to foundation backfilling; underground utility and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) trenches and conduits; the large concrete slabs (both on-grade and structural); concrete support columns; the foundation drainage system; and damp-proofing. Slab pouring may begin as early as May 7.


Also, in the past, the board agreed in concept concerning the need for the relocation ofsome HVAC condensers to the roof of the new public safety building, along with a roof hatch and ladder/stairs. The final price for that work, which has been included in “Change Order 1” is $17,516.89. 

A variety of small change order credit items have also been proposed in Change Order 1.  Items include a deleted hydrant (credit of $5,520), some deleted ductwork fire dampers (credit of $3,965.94), a modification to a power supply (credit of $300), and a light framing deletion

(credit of $2,100). Other small items will be added to future change orders including deleted ceiling painting (ceiling plastic in these areas), a deleted window, some deleted variable refrigerant flow equipment, a change to the entry vestibule ceiling construction, and modifications to one door.

Other changes in the public safety facility design plans include oil/water separators for vehicle wash operations on both levels of the planned facility. Given that the contractor has encountered ledge where the lower separator (for the Police Department) is specified, our designer has proposed to replace that unit with a simple, explosion proof ejector pump. The pump would send wash water up to the upper separator (for the Fire Department), where it could be processed for release.  The designer and project manager have reviewed the potential cost of hammering away the ledge in the lower area (about $53,000 total) versus installing the pump (about $20,000 total).  Given the relatively low use of the wash system in relation to other building systems, going with the pump option seems most appropriate (and is recommended by our professionals).  

This change order item was not ready for Change Order 1 and may be included in Change Order 2, at some later date.

The board approved all these items and updates to the project. 

retail marijuana, architect, massachusetts, essex, massachusetts, board of selectmen, led street light conversion work the town administrator, town building committee, host community agreement advisory committee, brendhan zubricki, paul francis, spinney, town of essex