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Braintree panel gives low ratings to bids for Petersen Pool, ice rink

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 18, 2013 04:44 PM

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Negotiations are well under way between Braintree officials and a proposed developer for the Petersen Pool, but recently released information suggests there's a lot left to discuss.

Of the two proposals that came in for the project, both were given an “unsatisfactory” rating by evaluation committee members.

“They look at a number of different criteria and it’s basically like a wish list of a number of things you would want possibly as part of the facility,” said Peter Morin, chief of staff and operations for the town. “And they found that when they rated them, they rated them as unsatisfactory.”

Evaluation committee members included School Committee member Tom Devin, Recreation Department Director Nelson Chin, Athletic Director Mike Denise, resident Mike Clifford, Recreation Advisory Board member Kathleen Sharkey-Jordan, and Town Councilor Tom Bowes.

According to Morin, the group gave ratings on several criteria, including the design, number of seats, environmental criteria, and references.

Though Morin wouldn’t release the specifics, he said both proposals had the same score and that neither was high.

“It gave us an honest assessment we could work with,” Morin said. “Based on their assessment, we could choose to go forward with one of the proposals or rebid the entire thing. We chose to go forward and we’re in the midst of negotiations right now.”

The deciding factor between the low-scoring proposals was the record of success in developing other sites, Morin said.

Town officials have not released the names of the two bidders and said they would not do so until an agreement was reached.

Morin also would not disclose the specifics of ongoing negotiations.

“[We’re] making it a mutually beneficial agreement that meets the needs of the town and allows for the group that is going to build and operate it to see a return on their investment,” Morin said. “This is a new frontier for. It’s never been done with a private/public partnership through this kind of development in Massachusetts. That’s why we’re proceeding very carefully and very slowly, taking steps to make sure it's done correctly.”

Regardless of the pending agreement, which should be reached by the second week of August, the essential components of a rink and swimming pool remain the same, Morin said.

“It will be a facility that will be available for public swimming and skating, and we’re trying to work out that it will provide a home facility for youth hockey, youth swimming, and high school swimming and hockey as well as public skating and swimming time, too,” Morin said.

Even with what appears to be lengthy and complex negotiations, the goal is still to break ground on the project this summer, Morin said.

Braintree officials have been vetting two proposals for the athletic facilities since September, looking at potential plans to design, build and operate a skating rink and junior Olympic-sized swimming pool on 6.1 acres of land next to Braintree High.

Officials are planning to use $1.5 million of the $1.8 million the town has accrued from a $65,000 gift tugboat captain August Petersen bequeathed to the town upon his death in 1963.

Though the will specifically called for the money to go towards a pool at Watson Park, neighbors pushed against the project. Though a splash pad has been built at the park using the money, Norfolk Probate and Family Court gave permission in 2006 to build the pool elsewhere.

The town also received approval from the legislature to allow for one bid to be put out on the design, construct, and operation of the facility. Requests for Proposals were put out in Summer 2012.

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