July 21, 2023
Dear BSD Community,
By now you have seen the incredible progress being made on the former site of BHS and BTC. It has been amazing to watch the buildings be painstakingly remediated and then quickly demolished. I know for some of you this is bittersweet, but I hope you share the sense of optimism that this brings for our students and community.
I’m writing today to share a few pieces of good news about the project as well as some challenges we’ve encountered.
First, I am thrilled to report that last month, the Vermont General Assembly passed next year’s state budget, which included a $16 million allocation to BSD to defray the cost of PCB remediation and disposal! The total cost of the remediation work will not be known until the work is completed, and the law stipulates that the funds will need to be returned to the state if BSD recovers funds via litigation. However, this is still a great victory for our community and we expect the State grant to greatly reduce the cost of the project to Burlington taxpayers. We are extremely thankful for the work of our House and Senate delegations, our advocates at the Statehouse, and everyone who supported this effort.
On the other hand, while digging up the foundation, we discovered additional sources of asbestos on the foundations of the old BHS/BTC campus. During demolition, we found that insulation had been glued to the inside of the foundation walls, which were buried underground. After we ripped the insulation off, we noticed big patches of glue left over on the wall. Our environmental consultants were immediately suspicious and decided to get these “glue daubs” tested. On the other side of the foundation, we discovered spray-on waterproofing material, which we also sent for tests. Tests for both materials came back positive for asbestos, meaning that EnviroVantage will have to follow asbestos remediation procedures on those pieces during the demolition and removal of these.
As you can imagine, slowing down to remediate the asbestos found in these additional materials will cost the project time and money. While we do not have specifics yet, we know this will impact both the project’s timeline and cost.
With that in mind, I am pushing EnviroVantage to get this work done as quickly as possible while being mindful of safety and environmental standards. We have also begun negotiations to extend the lease for DtBHS. And our team is working closely with Whiting-Turner to assess how the demolition delay will impact the construction timeline, while asking them to help find ways to make up time. We expect to provide the board and community with an updated project schedule in early September.
While this is disappointing, I have to say that I am not entirely surprised. A building as big, old, and toxic as this one is, is bound to have a few issues hiding. I want you to know that we are committed to moving forward as quickly as we can while remaining good financial stewards, and I appreciate your continued support of this project and our team.
Please see below for a few more updates on our progress, and please stay tuned for more information.
Thank you again,
Bats A community member recently reached out concerned about the presence of “little brown bats” on the BHS/BTC campus. Though we hadn’t seen any evidence of the animal, we took their report seriously and engaged in the services of independent environmental consultants. This team assessed the situation and assured us there was no evidence of bat habitats on the site. They also communicated with the Agency of Natural Resources who agreed with their findings.
Bonding On July 6, BSD received $40 million of Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) proceeds. These funds are a planned short-term bridge until the City of Burlington bonds for the $130 million authorized by the Board for this phase of borrowing. The BAN is necessary to ensure BSD has sufficient cash on hand to pay bills associated with the project while we await receipt of the full $130 million. When that bond is issued later this year, those proceeds will repay the BAN, thereby retiring that short-term debt. That said, we will be attending Monday’s City Council meeting to share an update on the project as they prepare to vote to approve this request for $130m in long-term bonds. After these are issued and the $40m BAN is repaid, we will still have $35m more in bonding authority for the project, though we are still hopeful that we will not need to borrow all of those funds.
Construction Drawings The design team has delivered the construction document (CD) drawings and specifications to Whiting-Turner. Whiting-Turner is reviewing the documents and the remaining bid packages (GMP 3) have been issued to subcontractors to bid on the project. The recommended GMP 3 will be presented to the School Board for approval in mid-September; this package will include an updated project schedule.
Demolition EV has completed the demolition of the “B Building” superstructure. Asbestos abatement of “C Building C” is well underway and the building should be ready for demolition soon.
Soils and Foundation The removal of urban soils on the east side of the property is progressing. Whiting-Turner will be ready to start on-site mobilization for site and foundations construction as soon as the old building foundations have been remediated and removed.
Zoning The development team presented the zoning permit amendment application to the City’s Development Review Board (DRB) on 7/18/23. The board did not have any questions and has already issued a signed approval! This will allow the District to apply for the full building permit as soon as the District’s third-party code review is complete, which we anticipate should be within the next month.