Sutton board, consultant pleased with new school contractor
By Susan Spencer TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
SUTTON — Selectmen unanimously approved Tuesday a $16.9 million tender offer from Western Surety Co., which insured the beleaguered middle/high school building project, and the appointment of Brait Builders Corp. of Marshfield as the project's completion contractor.
The new completion date is June 30, 2015.
Town Counsel Thomas W. McEnaney told the board, "Essentially, Brait is stepping into the shoes of TLT" to finish the project and fix any deficiencies in work performed by TLT Construction Corp.
Town officials terminated the $42 million contract with Wakefield-based TLT Construction in October for failure to fulfill the contract.
The tender-offer contract includes reimbursing the town $835,000 for project management, architect, legal and other costs incurred by the town during delays resulting from TLT's nonperformance and the four-month hiatus while a new contractor was vetted.
Selectman Richard Hersom challenged the board's meeting in executive session to discuss litigation strategy related to the contract before the open meeting.
Mr. Hersom said, "It's more about transparency and making information available to the public on a project as critical as this and one that has gone so critically wrong."
Brait Builders became the preferred choice by Western Surety just last week when G&R Construction, the previous designated contractor, increased its bid request.
Jonathan Winikur, the town's project manager from Strategic Business Solutions, said when he learned the contractor would be Brait, "We sent the team to chase every project that we could."
He told the board, "Broadly speaking, Brait has received the highest average rating of any of the firms being considered by DCAM," the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.
With background checks on several projects, including ones that Brait took over to complete, Mr. Winikur said the feedback was positive about the builder's ability to meet deadlines and do honest, high quality work.
The only red flag, he said, was a one-year decertification by DCAM in 2006 after another bidder contested the representation on a proposal of the completion amount versus total amount of the Oliver Ames High School contract.
Five other fines or small settlements with subcontractors and municipalities had been settled, according to Mr. McEnaney.
"I would personally give my recommendation and endorsement that I think they are a wise choice," Mr. Winikur said. "I would say, broadly speaking, what's been promised to us is they will meet our critical path."
He said that Brait Builders had also been selected by Western Surety to complete the renovations at Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole. The district terminated in December its contract with TLT Construction for nonpayment of subcontractors and delays in that work.
Robert Brait, one of the completion contracting firm's owners, told the board: "We're going to hit it head on and we're going to hit it hard because that's what we own and that's what we do."
Michael Brait, who was also at the meeting, will be the daily on-site supervisor during the three-month transition period until the new team is up and running.
The Braits told selectmen the school's new auditorium would be ready by the start of school in September 2014.