BRISTOL – The City Council has approved contracts to begin the design process for renovating City Hall, something council members said was long overdue.
The contracts are for $175,770 to D’Amato + Downs Joint Venture to be the construction manager and for $760,750 to Quisenberry Arcari Malik for architectural engineering services.
This is just the beginning phase of “an exciting project,” Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said.
“The combination of D’Amato + Downs Joint Venture and Quisenberry Arcari Malik is very familiar to all of us because that’s the team that’s currently doing the Memorial Boulevard Arts Magnet School project, so there’s already synergy there,” said Zoppo-Sassu.
Zoppo-Sassu said the building’s mechanical systems are old and failing, improving ADA access is “critical,” renovating the city’s clerks vault space is also critical to protect the permanent records she is mandated to have in the building, and there’s “obviously the aesthetic piece.”
It’s important to improve the appearance of the building from North Main Street to go with all the improvements that are planned for downtown, Zoppo-Sassu said.
Ray Rogozinski, public works director, noted that the building also needs to be brought up to current fire codes.
Rogozinski said approving the two contracts allows the city to proceed with the design of the renovations, as the architects design the building but the construction manager has input into the design process and helps keep it within the budget. Rogozinski also stated that major equipment components of the building are past reasonable life.
“It has got to be acknowledged that this has gone on for too long,” Councilman Peter Kelley said. “Previous administrations have kicked the can down the road, and it would be irresponsible to kick it any further.”
Councilwoman Brittany Barney said she sat through some of the preliminary meetings for the project.
“Learning about the lack of accessibility for disabled residents in particular I think there are some serious things that do need to be addressed within the City Hall building. It’s important that we do this project with proper kind of initial work,” said Barney. “This isn’t just about renovating City Hall it’s about making City Hall accessible to everybody that lives in Bristol.”
Rogozinski said that, having worked in the building for a number of years, “just by the location of my office, where I come out, I have literally seen on numerous occasions handicapped people just about crawling up the stairs. Literally this building is constructed as a raised ranch.”
“We technically have an accessible entrance on the north side, but in all fairness to residents it’s difficult to find. Most people come into it through the south entrance and right away there’s a staircase in front of them,” he said.
D’Amato Construction Co. is based in Bristol, Downes Construction Co. is based in New Britain, and Quisenberry Arcari Malik is based in Farmington.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or email@example.com.