MONROE, CT — Cream colored board and batten siding and a new sign are on the Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service’s headquarters at 54 Jockey Hollow Road, and its expanded parking lot is smoothly paved.
The $4.6 million renovation and addition project is nearly complete, according to Building Committee Chairman Terry Rooney.
A punch list of final items includes putting in white boards, an epoxy on the garage floor, some outdoor painting, resurfacing concrete walls in a courtyard area and landscaping when the weather gets warmer.
“We have many people who volunteer their time to serve the residents of this town,” Rooney said of the EMS. “Now, they have a wonderful facility in which to operate.”
Volunteers had worked out of a trailer during construction, but Rooney said a certificate of occupancy for the building was recently issued allowing all operations to move inside.
Visitors are buzzed in at the main entrance and the hallway leads to office space and a new classroom, where the EMS has been hosting its first training session since Feb. 20.
On Friday morning, the large room had four rows of tables with 28 chairs. The room has a podium, a marker board and three wall mounted screens in the front, with storage closets and a row of coat hangers in the back.
A window wall allows an ample amount of natural light to come in.
Lisa Pane, the administrator and a longtime EMS volunteer, works at her desk by a window in a spacious office area.
“Before, we had a very small training room and a very small day room,” Pane said. “There was really no office space. The administrator before me had a desk at the top of the stairs.”
The new day room is a large open room with a full kitchen, a long table by a window wall, and a semicircle of comfy chairs facing a wall-mounted TV.
“We have a huge room for people to sit and socialize and we can cook meals,” Pane said.
A work area off the day room has computers and seating.
The second floor has five bunk rooms and men and women’s bathrooms, each with a shower.
Rooney said the ceiling in the garage area was painted black and the bay doors were replaced when the old ones began to fail during the project.
Among the fire truck and older ambulances inside the garage is a brand new ambulance, which will replace No. 953 when it is taken out of service and given to the Monroe Public Works Department.
In addition to Rooney, the EMS Building Committee includes Vice Chairman Michael Vitello, John Brenna, Robert Westlund, Domenic Paniccia, John Ostaszewski and David Orr.
Rooney said the project followed a construction manager at risk model, in which the town hired Burlington Construction Company and negotiated directly with every subcontractor, rather than a model in which a general contractor is hired and does the hiring of subcontractors and handles budgeting and their payments.
As a result, Rooney said every change order and cost increase was “critically evaluated every step of the way.”
“Every dollar of this project comes from a hard working individual in the town of Monroe, and there was no way dollars could be spent unnecessarily during these tough economic times,” he said.
The project received approximately $4.1 million in bonding approved by voters in a Town Meeting on June 28 and a $500,000 Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant, which former State Rep. J.P. Sredzinski, R-112th, had lobbied for.
Rooney said a contingency of $300,000 is built into the project and, of that, $80,000 was for potential increases in the cost of materials.
Despite sharp increases in the cost of building materials due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rooney said he believes the project will still come in close to budget.
There were three change orders for things outside the scope of the project: rock removal on the east wing that geotechnical surveys had missed, replacing garage doors that began to fail and an additional charge from the architect for increased hours due to delays from the pandemic, according to Rooney.
Due to competitive bidding, he said the garage doors were about $60,000 less than anticipated.
The change orders totaled around $210,000 and were approved by the Town Council, said Rooney, who is also a member of the council.
‘Night and day’
Rooney said he believes the project resulted in changes that will make it easier for builders to work with Town Hall staff to invest in Monroe.
“In the beginning of the building process for this project many of our complications were Building Department related,” Rooney said. “Systems and ways of doing things were not optimal.”
“With the help of First Selectman Ken Kellogg and Town Planner Rick Schultz, many of those deficiencies were identified and corrected with the hiring of new personnel in the Building Department,” he added.
“My expectation in this project was to be treated equally to that of a contractor building and investing in the town,” Rooney said. “The difficulties that arose revealed what needed to be addressed and quickly. The operations of Town Hall, from the inception of this project to completion, are night and day.”
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Thank you EMS VOls, Terry Rooney and the Cmte of dedicated VOLs, and Town Planner and building Department. Ofc 1st selectman leadership. Well done folks!