Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Slight Miscalculation

Wildflower/Trilliam Way intersect bottom looking south

The Select Board on Monday night unanimously approved recommending to Town Meeting $3 million in borrowing to complete phase 2 of the Amherst Woods Sewer project.

 Click to enlarge/read

The original guestimate for the entire project was $4.2 million but then our consultant, CDM Smith, seemingly got it down to $3 million, which was approved by Town Meeting in 2011.

But during the final bid process it was discovered that estimate was a tad too optimistic.  By a LOT.

So the actual total cost is now $6 million, hence the need to borrow another $3 million.

The mistake was simply in properly estimating the cost of the work -- which was always really $6 million from the get go -- so it's not like they made a mistake that required costly additional correction work to rectify it.

And they are providing extra services without billing for it as a make good. 

Yes, the town is also using CDM Smith for the roundabout project at E. Pleasant/Triangle Street but DPW Chief Guilford Morring says that it's different set of consultants from another city branch.

 Iduna Lane (right) also on the list

Unlike the design mistake with the $10 million UMass Paradis steam plant that resulted in a total loss


Anonymous said...

Would love to know the back story on the UMass power plant you mention. Happened before my arrival.

Larry Kelley said...

Anonymous said...

"John William Ward, American Idealist." After serving as Amherst College president 1971-1979, at Gov Dukakis' request he headed the Commonwealth commission that investigated corruption throughout the statewide construction office processes. Assume the worst in this case with the sewer bid - it was never $3M but that was the figure needed to obtain approval. Sort of like the OMB/GAO scoring of ObamaCare, and the BlueWave promise of $20M in electricity savings for the town.


Anonymous said...

Amherst Woods should be assessed and pay for the sewer improvements. The most affluent area in town gets a freebie, the same people that sued the town over the solar array. Who made the decision to give them a free pass?

Larry Kelley said...

Town Meeting.

Anonymous said...

The full answer is the joint capital planning committee, the head of DPW, the Town Manager, the Select Board and Finance Committee all approved these improvements and sent their recommendations to Town Meeting the approved the capital request. And that is how our government works--a group of citizens and paid staff working together to make decisions. Welcome to the last 350 years of local democratic government decision-making. Come join us Anon 8:32.

Anonymous said...


Your 8:38AM comment is a bit disingenuous: you've served in Town Meeting for many years yourself, and although you've (admirably) stood up against the consensus of the "powers that be" many times on a couple particular issues (especially the golf course), you too are among those who defer to that consensus on most matters. I agree with 8:32AM, and articulated that position when I was (arguably) a "power that was" - but the overwhelming advice of Town staff (particularly then-Finance Director John Musante and DPW Director Guilford Mooring) was to fold this cost into the overall sewer fund though general rate hikes, rather than issue a special assessment to those residents who directly benefit and who would have had to pay for it themselves (when they purchased their homes) if the subdivision developers had originally been required to install sewers. There was a delicate balance between the collective benefit to everyone in town by having the sewer installed there, and the fairness (or unfairness) in assessing the costs - you were part of that decision - and given the way the decision was taken,
it would have been no different under a mayor and town/city council.

- YF

Dr. Ed said...

The Ward Commission Report id in the Govt Docs Dept of the UM Library and well worth reading. LOTS of defective buildings, and while corruption was part, it also was gross incompetence. Like trying to pipe live steam 1.9 miles DOWNHILL before running it through a turbine...

Anonymous said...

"Amherst Woods should be assessed and pay for the sewer improvements."

We are. It's called property taxes, which we pay some of the highest in Amherst. So it would be nice if we got the same sewer as everyone else. We aren't asking for something extra, but after decades of paying taxes, it's not unreasonable to have a sewer line put in.

Anonymous said...

"Betterments" are also a possibility. Flowers should have been required to put in a sewer system but planning board goofed yet again. We all knew taxpayers would end up paying for mr. Flowers gain.

Anonymous said...

Amherst should have an elected Planning Board.

Agreed about Flowers and his ilk….