On Monday, town officials formally closed the bidding process on a capital project to move the senior center to Town Hall, to be called the Mather Center, and the Board of Education to 35 Leroy Avenue, known as the Shuffle.
After six sealed bids were opened in the Town Hall auditorium Monday, the lowest seemed to come from Wernert Construction and Dappreio Construction. Each company was invited to bid on each half of the Shuffle separately and was aware that they might only get half the project.
Dappreio bid $2.5 million on the 35 Leroy Ave. half and $3.6 million on the Mather Center half for a total of $6.1 millon.
Wernert Construction bid $2,724,013 for the 35 Leroy Ave. side and $3,554,032 for the Mather Center for a total of $6,278,045.
Wernert Construction recently completed the Weed Beach renovation in town.
The town could possibly use Dappreio for the 35 Leroy half and Wernert for the Mather Center as they were individally cheapest.
Selectman Dave Campbell conceived of the Shuffle while in his last term as first selectman. The $6.9 million appropriation was approved by the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting last fall.
A referendum failed to overturn the RTM’s vote despite it earning more ‘no’ votes than ‘yes’ votes last December.
Campbell said he expects the building committee for the Shuffle, of which he is chairman, to make a decision on the bids by next week.
“The prices are clsoe to what we expected, right in line with what we expected.
“Now the architects check the bids to make sure everythign that needs to be included is include and that there aren’t any major discrepancies,” he said.
Campbell said references will also be checked before a decision is made.
The selectmen recently discussed how the Mather Center would be run and what kind of uses would be allowed. Sue Swiatek, director of Parks & Rec, said that the new senior center has “some twists to it,” as it is more of a community-based facility than the current location.
“There are uses beyond the seniors themselves to address,” Swiatek told the board at their Monday, Sept. 10 meeting. Swiatek said the center’s operations are modeled after facilities in Glastonbury and Groton, and she provided the selectmen with a draft policy for the center’s use, including hours of operation, defining maintenance and establishing fee schedules.
Swiatek also met with the Commission on Aging to gain their input. “The determination of these issues will allow us to plan our services and be prepared to respond to the community regarding this exciting new space,” Swiatek said.
The primary purpose of the center is to provide seniors a place for programs, so senior activities will be given priority over others, Swiatek said. The facility will be available to town-sponsored events, government meetings and town non-profits and civic groups. No for-profit organizations can use the Mather Center, nor can non-Darien groups or Darien individuals for personal use.
Because of health codes, only certain chefs will be able to use the commercial kitchen, Swiatek added.
Construction is expected to start at the beginning of October, but prep work has already begun at 35 Leroy Ave., the former library building. The Board of Ed is expected to move over the February break in 2013.