By Gary Jeanfaivre
Newtown took another step forward with its plans to demolish and rebuild Sandy Hook Elementary School Thursday when town officials announced the architect and construction management companies that will oversee the proposed project.
The firms, chosen through action of the Board of Selectmen, are Svigals + Partners and Consigli Construction Co. Svigals, based out of New Haven, will serve as the architect and engineers, while Milford-based Consigli will oversee the project.
"The Board is also pleased to announce that both BL and Turner will be involved in the project, continuing the work they have performed for the Newtown community over these past months," according to a message from Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra. "BL will perform the civil engineering role and Turner will serve as the Owner Advisor for construction services."
Svigals is a "full service architecture firm specializing in education, laboratory, master planning, corporate and residential projects," according to its website. The firm's portfolio touts its work as a combination of architecture and art, and previous projects include planning at Yale University, the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut headquarters of the FBI.
Consigii's work includes construction at the University of Connecticut, as well as Amherst College and Dartmouth College in Massachusetts.
Background on the Process
In July, residents unanimously voted at a Town Meeting to accept a $750,000 grant from the state to put the project in motion and, according to town officials, keep it on schedule for an opening in 2016.
The allocation, an advance on a $50 million state grant expected to cover the project in full, includes pre-engineering and engineering work, surveys, wetlands postings, architect's fees and removal of an underground oil tank. Over the summer, a committee made up of town officials, put out the requests for quotations and narrowed down the candidates for architects and construction management.
Two months earlier, after several meetings and public hearings, Llodra and a specially created task force voted to demolish the school and rebuild a new one on the existing property, on Dickenson Drive. Town voters have still not signed off on that plan, though.
A vote on whether to demolish the school, where 20 children and six educators were shot to death on Dec. 14, 2012, is scheduled for Oct. 5.
Llodra told Patch no construction work would begin before the vote.
"It's really important I not get ahead of community," she said after residents approved the initial grant. "If I did otherwise, the signal would be that I had already decided it and their voice doesn't matter."
At that time, Llodra told Patch there's "no easy answer" as to what would happen if Newtown accepted the $750,000 and the referendum failed. The original appropriation would already be spent, she said.
"That's a hypothetical I hope we never have to face," she said. "If we get the $750,000 and do the site and design work, and don't approve the $50 million, we would have to go back to the drawing board. We would have no project at that point."