At a Special Town Meeting on Oct. 6, Old Lyme residents approved by a scant 27 votes the expenditure of an additional $405,000 from the town’s surplus account to be used to supplement the $478,000 Small Town’s Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant awarded in 2013 to fund the construction of a new boathouse and other improvements at Hains Park. The current cost estimate of the project for the park, which abuts Rogers Lake, stands at $883,000.
There are already strong indications, even before the project has gone out to bid, that changes to the design may be necessary to meet prevailing building and fires safety codes, which could lead to an increase in the construction costs.
Draft construction drawings submitted to Old Lyme Fire Marshal, Dave Roberge, earlier in October have raised a number of questions about compliance with fire safety codes, as well as possible building code deficiencies and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) non-compliance.
Roberge told LymeLine he has concerns regarding the adequacy of the emergency exits from the second floor, which, it was stated at the recent town meeting, would be an area available at times for the general public to use. Roberge also noted that the plans he has received do not show adequate fire separation between the first and second floor.
The Fire Marshal has not yet been provided with the mechanical or electrical drawings for the proposed building, so has been unable to comment on the adequacy of emergency lighting or exit signage.
Based on his preliminary review of the draft plans, the Town Building Official, John Flower, has also expressed concern about some aspects of the building design and is planning to submit the final construction drawings, once received, to a third party for independent review. Flower states that he has specific concerns about, “Possible under-sizing of support columns for the second floor,” and adequacy of the construction design for the front of the building.
As currently planned, the second floor will also have no handicap access and would require an elevator or wheelchair lift or other similar device to become ADA compliant, none of which are currently in the budget. Addition of an elevator or wheelchair lift would also have fire safety and building code implications and would require review and sign-off before a building permit could be issued.
Although final construction drawings have not yet been submitted to the Fire Marshal or Town Building Department for review, the Town of Old Lyme published a Public Notice in ‘The Day’ Wednesday, Oct. 22, requesting bids on the project by Nov. 17 and announcing a mandatory pre-bid site walk, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m.
“If changes are required to meet fire safety codes after the bid has been awarded, it will require a change order,” noted Roberge, “and that usually means an increase in the construction cost.”