New Jr. High Ready to Go

LYNDHURST — Looks like all systems are go for Lyndhurst’s new junior high school.

The township Board of Commissioners voted June 28 to award the construction job to Dobco Inc. of Wayne for a total cost of $51,125,500.

Dobco was determined to be “the lowest responsible bidder” among the nine contractors that submitted bids on the project.

It was Dobco that the Kearny Board of Education initially awarded the contract for façade and structural improvements to Kearny High School several years ago, but that award was ultimately overturned by the courts in June 2011 on technical issues and, instead, the job went to a rival bidder that was, also, later replaced.

Other bids on the Lyndhurst project came in between $52 million and $58.4 million.

The township — under a joint agreement with the Lyndhurst Board of Education — agreed to build the new school on the site of Matera Field, bordered roughly by Ridge Road, and Page and Marin avenues. The township last month adopted bond ordinances that will finance construction.

Two “smaller” bonds are expected to be issued at some point, according to township attorney Carmine Alampi, “for infrastructure work and a retaining wall.” He didn’t provide a cash estimate.

Alampi said Dobco will follow design and construction specifications for the new building as prepared by the consulting architects, DiCara/Rubino Architects of Wayne.

Alampi said that under a construction contract that the township and the builder were expected to sign July 9, Dobco is to complete the job “by Memorial Day 2020” in time for the first classes to begin in September 2020.

A pre-construction meeting with Dobco was also scheduled for this week to help get things rolling, he said.

Dobco will be deploying “a lot of sub-contractors” on the job, Alampi said, all of whom “are known to us and are well-known in the [construction] industry.”

As prescribed by a “project labor agreement” with the builder, there is to be “union labor all the way” on the project, Alampi said.

To make sure the builder is following the designated plans and specifications, the township has retained Epic Management of Piscataway to handle construction management for the project, Alampi said.

Epic – which provided a similar role on the Kearny High School job – will be paid $21,000 per month “to keep the project on line and on time,” the attorney said, and the firm will be paid from the professional fees component of the township bond issue on the project, he added.

Alampi said Epic will assign a site coordinator to the job on a “24/7” basis, and “there will be a regional coordinator above him,” along with “in-house staff” from the Lyndhurst Board of Education, to ensure a chain of accountability.

Another safeguard built into the process, Alampi noted, is that should there be a significant disagreement between the parties, “the contractor cannot stop the work by walking off the job. There is a provision for mediation.”

At a point “18 months from now,” the attorney said, the township — in consultation with local school officials — will likely issue another bond … probably in the amount of $2 million … for “school furniture and technical equipment.”

It makes sense to wait that long, Alampi said, because by then, the district should have a better sense of how many desks, chairs, etc., will be needed for the incoming seventh- , eighth- and ninth-graders and, because technology advances so quickly, the district will be able to order the most up-to-date computer equipment for students.

“On this job, the Board of Education is our customer,” Alampi said. “They’re going to be very involved in the design of the school because we want to have a satisfied customer by meeting the standards of the district.”

While, at this time, the district is committed to dedicating grades 7 through 9 for the junior high, Alampi said the district is also keeping its options open “by having [educational] professionals” explore the possibility of “modifying” that plan at some point.

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