Board mulls builder choice

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Education: Committee picks familiar firm to take on the task

By Tris DeRoma

The redesign project of Aspen Elementary recently received a boost when the Los Alamos Public School District’s Citizen’s Review Committee picked a Construction Manager at Risk to head up the project.

The CMAR will be Jaynes Corporation, according to LAPS Purchasing Manager June Gladney.

“The interview with Jaynes’ staff was dynamic, exciting and on target. It is clear that they understand the CMAR process and how it will benefit our Aspen project,” Gladney said in a recent report on the matter.

A CMAR is an industry term for a construction manager that, once a total construction cost estimate is agreed upon with the client, must make sure to stay within the agreed budget. A CMAR usually agrees to assume all cost overruns, thus, the “at-risk” part.

Gladney reminded the board of the difference, using the construction currently going on at the middle school as an example.

“I hope the board will approve our selection,” said Gladney, reminding the board that “this is a CMAR project, in that we are moving away from the McCarthy model. There will be a preconstruction phase where there will be a guaranteed maximum price and then move forward from there.

The district sent out a request for proposals and Jaynes was one of six companies that responded.

The 66-year-old firm, based in Albuquerque, has taken on a number of projects in Los Alamos County throughout the years. It’s currently involved in the New Mexico Consortium Office and research facility near the Holiday Inn and the  Los Alamos Food Co-op, and the company also has a nearly $20 million contract for construction of the new municipal building on Central Avenue.

LAPS Superintendent Dr. Gene Schmidt was comfortable with the fact that the committee, which is comprised of 12 members from the school district as well as the community at large, agreed on the CMAR.

“It’s unusual when a decision is unanimous,” he said. “In this case, the whole committee liked these people.”
Gladney responded that the committee had a good feeling about Jaynes, that there was a “chemistry there that was really wonderful.”

Committee member Grant Stewart remarked at the meeting that one of the reasons Jaynes was picked over the others is that they understood the CMAR role.

“They understand this contract mechanism, where the construction manager at risk is our lead, our partner that will represent the district,” Stewart said.

Stewart went on to say he and the committee were impressed with the talent that Jaynes brought with them to the committee interview, especially when it came to their knowledge of “BIM” or building information management, a special kind of software that will allow them to visualize the finished project, which will help in eliminating cost overruns.

“There are going to be a lot of tradeoffs as we figure out how to get the best project to the budget count,” Stewart said.

The school board is currently reviewing the committee’s pick, and will make a decision soon.

However, the school board’s decision will also hinge on whether or not the residents of Los Alamos approve the school district’s request for $20 million in general obligation bonds to complete the project. The mail-in ballot election is set for January of next year.