Town of Waitsfield town office drawing

After meeting with its architects about cutting costs on Waitsfield's new town office, the select board opted to keep the cupola and made approximately $23,000 in cuts to the cost of the town office.

"What kind of cost savings could we realize if we take the cupola away from the project and the glass floor in the top level is tied to light coming in the cupola? If we don't need the cupola, do we need the glass floor and have we devalued the building?" board member Sal Spinosa asked at the board's August 3 meeting.

One of the project architects, Bill Gallup, told the select board that the cupola was originally added to allow natural light to infiltrate the lobby of the building, filtered through either an opening in the second floor or later, a glass floor structure.


"There seemed to be a couple of reasons to consider a cupola. There are many buildings, two churches in the village, where the application of a cupola gives the extra identification as an important public building.

He explained that the cupola would not be the only source of daylight because light would still come in through the arched windows. He said the Town Office Design Committee looked at the building with and without the cupola, eliminated it but it did not represent a large savings so it was put back on.

"It wasn't a savings of tens of thousands of dollars and the committee decided it was important to the character of the building," he added.


Both architects and board member Kari Dolan said that the building had been represented to the public since the start with a cupola.

Principal project architect Bill Maclay voiced a concern about how the town would communicate with the architectural firm and contractors now that construction had begun.

"There needs to be somebody to give us some guidance. We went through a process. The committee decided not to put the cupola on as an add/alternate. This has been in front of the select board. Making changes now is not really a great deal for the town. That's why we put so many add/alts on there. At this point, to remove the cupola, we'd have to go back to the development review board and we should be getting paid for our time to go back and revisit the situation. We have to get a new price from the contractor. If you change it now, after construction has started you'll lose 50 percent of any savings versus saving the entire amount," he explained.

Waitsfield Town Office color options as presented at Town Meeting.
Waitsfield Town Office color options as presented at Town Meeting.


"One of my biggest concerns is the process of how we deal with this process from now until the end of construction. There needs to be somebody giving us some guidance. Reality is that we need either someone from the board or the committee to be our liaison," he continued.

Board member Logan Cooke asked about maintenance costs of the cupola and Gallup said it was relatively maintenance free.

"We're going down a dangerous path if we go back through this project tile by tile. We selected a wide range of people to be on the building committee. I think the cupola issue has been put into bed. We can't get back into the nitty gritty, forms are being poured down there," Cooke added.


"I would really like to know the savings if we cut that cupola out," board chair Paul Hartshorn said.

"That's not a simple question," Maclay responded.

He and Dolan reiterated the process of change orders after construction has begun. It would cost to have the architects and engineers redesign the roof, it would cost to have the architects return for town review and the contractor would not likely pass 100 percent of the cost savings onto the board.

Town resident Tom Buczkowski, who served on the committee, suggested that if the cupola was eliminated and the architects were concerned about the structural engineering, "it's just a matter of filling in the hole. At a future day if the cupola is really necessary, it could be added on."

"Just because we have grant money, does that mean we have to spend it all?" Buczkowski added.

"It bothers me, listening to some board members talk about how we're going to find ways of saving money and I haven't seen a whole lot of effort on that," board member Scott Kingsbury said.


"At the last meeting we voted on a whole slate of savings. These were the things that were put in front of us as corners that could be shaved," Spinosa responded.

Although the project was once some $200,000 over budget, additional grants and grant funding has been received and some cuts have been made, leaving the project $13,000 under budget (based on its new, additional revenues sources). The project also includes a $63,000 contingency fee, which Gallup pointed out was not yet assigned to any overage and add/alt cost.


The board, he said, could decide towards the end of the project to use some of that money to upgrade the roof from a 25-year roof to a 50-year roof. He did not clarify if upgrading would entail the same additional expenses as cost lowering measures.

The costs that the board did cut at its July 27 meeting included saving $405 by getting a regular drinking fountain instead of a vandal proof fountain; $1,807 by replacing a wood floor with carpet, $9,325 by using town supplied gravel under all paved areas;$3,800 by substituting a window for a door; $1,200 by eliminating winders on stairs; $960 by eliminating a skylight; $750 by eliminating a counter; $1,510 by changing the type of tile in the bathrooms; $948 for substituting tile for polished and dyed concrete flooring in three rooms; $1,100 for substituting PVC piping for cast iron; $1,920 for eliminating two more skylights; $5,000 for eliminating recessed entry grates and $3,950 for waiving subcontractor bonds.