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Opinion: Numbers on Middlebury gym renovation don’t add up

I remain confused by the conflicting estimates and costs that continue to be used in the discussion of the town offices/gym issue. While the estimates from Bread Loaf presented to the Steering Committee for the new proposed buildings are $3,481,000 for the offices and $3,723,000 for the gym (excluding the UD3 requested locker rooms), the estimate for renovating both the existing buildings is $5,798,300. As reported in this paper, when asked how much of that renovation estimate was for the gym, the answer was $2.7 million.
What confuses me is that the 2012 Gym Task Force Report — http://middleburyfreepress.org/Project%20Numbers/0-Gymnasium_8-12-12%20e… — of the engineering analysis done on the gym shows this structurally sound building had the need for repairs and improvements that total $695,500 plus some money for insulation.
This lists includes new lighting, new roof membrane, new fire alarms, repointed masonry, entry repairs, new windows, plastering and painting, new HVAC heating system (reduces heat costs by 60 percent), security controls, new changing rooms, showers and toilets and new bleachers. $87,000 of this work has already been done, $33,000 more is planned in 2014 — roof membrane, bleachers, painting and lights. Some of the remaining $575,000 of work planned for 2014, as well as general maintenance, was put on hold by the selectboard.
So if this list, based on actual building inspection, comes to $695,500, how does one arrive at the other estimate for renovation, without building inspection, of $2.7 million? I think the Steering Committee and the selectboard owe it to our community to explain this great discrepancy in numbers. Unfortunately, no similar, real analysis of the offices has been done so we have nothing help us understand the true cost of renovation vs. new for that. How does this community have an educated vote without this information?
I urge citizens to consider when they vote the value of what the existing historic, grand gym represents. To build such a structure today would cost hugely more than what is being proposed as its smaller replacement for $3.7 million (which is over budget). To have the similar quality and space of what we have now and the suggested savings in energy costs with a new heating system, we would have to be spending a lot more than what the selectboard has allowed for the new gym.
What quality do we get, what do we sacrifice, what future costs will there be with their plan? Why would we bulldoze our very valuable gym that has served us so well for so many programs and events for something of such much lesser quality and size?
Victoria DeWind
Middlebury

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