LYNNFIELD — The School Building Committee voted unanimously Friday to hire LEFTFIELD, LLC as the owner’s project manager (OPM) for the voter-approved $17 million elementary schools expansion project.
LEFTFIELD was one of four finalists selected from a pool of 14 firms that responded to more than two dozen formal requests issued by Department of Public Works Director John Tomasz.
As the OPM, the firm will oversee the construction of the new school building.
“They were all strong, diverse candidates,” said School Building Committee Chair John Scenna, who, along with Tomasz and Town Engineer Charlie Richter, reviewed the submissions. “But LEFTFIELD had the most experience with fast-track projects. While ours is technically not a fast track, you could say the first three months is, so their experience really fits our needs the best.”
According to a cover letter submitted with its proposal, LEFTFIELD has been in business for 14 years and has completed more than $1.2 billion of public construction projects. Its sale pitch promises to “immediately infuse ourselves into the new project to ensure construction begins in early July.”
“They are prepared to start as early as next week once we enter into a contract with them,” Scenna said. “This company takes a very detailed approach to the design process and scheduling and even presented us with a schedule, so they are thinking the right way. The lead project manager has completed over 14 accelerated projects, which, with a condensed window need to have strong management.”
Local projects managed by LEFTFIELD include the Elbridge Gerry Elementary School in Marblehead, the Galvin Middle School and Walton Elementary School in Wakefield, and the Garfield Elementary School in Revere.
Scenna said Lynnfield School Committee members reached out to Wakefield and Marblehead for comment about their experience working with LEFTFIELD.
“They both said their performance was excellent and gave them an A-plus,” Scenna said.
The LEFTFIELD team will be led by CEO Jim Rogers, who will serve as principal in charge, while James Riefstahl will be the project director.
“(Riefstahl’s) experience coordinating public and abutter outreach, leadership communication and his organizational skills will be key throughout the entire process,” said Rogers. “James will coordinate the efforts of the design and construction team to ensure that budget, quality and schedule requirements are met or exceeded.”
In December 2020, the town appropriated $17 million for the project, which includes the construction of five new classrooms at both the Summer Street and Huckleberry Hill schools. Four classrooms will be dedicated to everyday learning, with the fifth serving as an adaptable individualized learning space. Two existing classrooms at each school will be renovated.
The project also includes enlarging the gymnasium at Huckleberry to a size similar to the middle school gym, expanding and reconfiguring both schools’ parking lots, new fields at each school, and a new playground at Summer Street. The project will be ready for the start of the 2022-23 school year.
In response to a question from School Committee Chair Jamie Hayman on whether anyone had asked LEFTFIELD if they had done any work outside of partnerships with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), Scenna said the fact that the town is funding the project on its own is advantageous.
“The fact that they are out on their own is more beneficial, as there’s so much less paperwork than with MSBA,” Scenna said. “The fact that they have been able to be so successful on accelerated MSBA projects is impressive.”
The next step, Scenna said, is to “get into the bid process.”
“The role of an OPM is to come on board and assist with the bidding process by making sure that our approach is coordinated with all the other people involved in the process,” Scenna said.
Town Administrator Rob Dolan said that the project is the culmination of the efforts of many.
“I would say that it’s been the real input of leadership on the part of the Select Board and Schools and all the various committees that have been involved in this from the very beginning,” Dolan said.
“These people all serve voluntarily and while it’s been a long, steady process, it’s because of them that we are talking about breaking ground this summer. This is a very exciting time for the entire town of Lynnfield.”