Westhampton’s public safety complex taking shape

  • Dave Dube, an employee at MT. Ford Industries, works on hanging a truss on the Westhampton public safety complex being built. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Steve Holt, the chairman of the Public Safety Complex Building Committee and assistant fire chief in Westhampton, talks about the progress of the Westhampton Public Safety Complex last week. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Westhampton Fire Chief Dave Antosz talks about the progress of the Westhampton Public Safety Complex last week. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Tito Cruz, an employee of Krutz Inc., works on hanging a truss on the Westhampton Safety Public Complex. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • A drawing of the Westhampton Public Safety Complex. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Steve Holt, the chairman of the Public Safety Complex Building Committee and assistant fire chief in Westhampton, talks about the progress on the Westhampton Public Safety Complex last week. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Steve Holt, left, chairman of the Public Safety Complex Building Committee and assistant fire chief, and Fire Chief Dave Antosz talk about the progress of the Westhampton Public Safety Complex last week. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Dave Dube, an employee at M.T. Ford Industries, works on hanging a truss on the Westhampton Public Safety Complex. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/20/2022 8:18:33 PM
Modified: 2/20/2022 8:18:12 PM

WESTHAMPTON — Amid challenges in securing supplies and some unanticipated setbacks, construction of the town’s $4.3 million public safety complex — some four years in the making — is underway.

Originally, both the fire and police departments had hoped to be in the new 10,400-square-foot facility at the beginning of 2022 as much of the Fire Department’s apparatus and equipment cannot be left outside, said Assistant Fire Chief Steve Holt, who also serves as chairman of the town’s Public Safety Complex Building Committee. However, he said there were a number of reasons why the facility has not yet been completed

“A lot has happened in two years,” Holt said. “This was supposed to be a six-month project. We started in April and we were supposed to move in in six months, but there’s a lot of little things that caused that delay.”

In March 2021, residents voted 350-186 in favor of a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override to finance the new public safety complex. The vote marked the second time residents took up the question of a new building. In 2018, voters at a Town Meeting narrowly advanced the proposal to a ballot question, but turned down the debt-exclusion override at the polls.

Shortly thereafter, Westhampton Fire Chief David Antosz said, the old building was emptied out to make way for demolition.

“But that’s when things started to go wrong,” Antosz said.

One of the first challenges came about with the discovery of vermiculite, which is one form of non-fiberglass insulation, in the former building. The main portion of the former 7,300-square-foot building was constructed in 1948 as a highway garage. Over the years, additions were made to accommodate the needs of the Fire Department.

The majority of vermiculite insulation used in residential and commercial buildings between 1919 and 1990 came from a mine near Libby, Montana, which also had a natural deposit of asbestos, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As such, the vermiculite from the Libby mine was deemed contaminated with asbestos.

Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not have a definitive test method to analyze for the presence of asbestos in vermiculite. So, under the state’s Department of Environment Protection regulations, non-fiberglass insulation like vermiculite is considered to be “suspect asbestos-containing material.” MassDEP recommends leaving vermiculite insulation undisturbed until a professional contractor can perform remediation.

Remediation at the former 48 Stage Road facility cost $15,000 and took five weeks to complete as there had been no one initially lined up to perform the task, Holt said. Once the work was completed, the building was demolished in April 2021.

Unlike other large-scale building projects, Holt said designs were completed and funding was secured before the town went out to bid on the building.

“COVID-19 hit and the contractor said, ‘I can’t do it.’ He was the low bidder,” said Holt … noting that a wooden part of the building went up $90,000 in cost. “And he had the proof … the cost of lumber went out of sight. We ended up negotiating and had to make sure we didn’t go over the next lowest bidder.”

Holt praised the building’s general contractor, W.J. Mountford Co. of South Windsor, Connecticut, especially considering there were additional obstacles with the project plans. Although the project’s architect, DiGiorgio Associates Inc., headquartered in Charlestown, had sent plans that worked on paper, they had to make adjustments physically, Holt said.

The project manager, D.A. Sullivan & Sons Inc. of Northampton, helped navigate those delays, he said.

The Highway Department also has accommodated the First Department in continuing to store its equipment and apparatus and the Police Department was able to set up a trailer for its office in the back of the Highway Department building.

“We have no problem with timing now and we’re not trying to force anyone to quickly finish the project,” Holt said. “Everything that has happened was not the contractor’s fault to this point.”

The building has finally started to take shape with the installation of trusses, and the town anticipates construction will be completed by June.

“Within the past month, a lot of progress has been made in a short period of time,” said Antosz.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy