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For the Montauk Playhouse, Now the Work Begins

Thu, 02/22/2024 - 17:18

Town accepts bids for aquatic and cultural centers

A bird’s-eye view of the layout of the Playhouse and aquatic center project.
Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation

The East Hampton Town Board voted last Thursday to accept bids for the construction of an aquatic center and multi-use cultural center at the Montauk Playhouse Community Center, at a total cost of $13.9 million. The board also voted to accept a donated $8.25 million raised by the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation for the project, a ceremonial groundbreaking for which took place last summer and construction of which could start in April.

While the plan initially called for construction of the aquatic center to be followed at an unspecified later date by a second-story cultural center, Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said last Thursday that, owing to the amount of money raised, “we’re doing phase one and phase two together.”

The aquatic center, to be constructed on the Playhouse’s first floor, is to include a 32-by-33-foot shallow pool for instruction, recreation, and physical therapy, and a 25-yard, four-lane lap pool for training as well as instruction and recreation. The latter pool will have a longer shallow end for instruction and a nine-foot deep end for lifeguard certification. The aquatic center’s plans also call for locker rooms and flexible spaces.

The second floor will feature a multi-use cultural center to serve as a versatile space for performances, lectures, classes, conferences, and meetings. The project also calls for site work on the west side of the building, landscaping, additional lighting and parking, two new low-nitrogen sanitary systems, and subsurface drainage structures.

Scott DiBerardino of Island Structures Engineering, the project manager for the improvements to the Playhouse, said construction is expected to last approximately 16 to 18 months. He recommended the awarding of four separate contracts for the project: for general construction, plumbing and fire sprinklers, electrical work, and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning, or HVAC.

Crossroads Construction was awarded an $8.364 million contract to serve as general contractor, with an additional $850,000 “add on” for the cultural center. Boilermatic Welding Solutions was awarded the HVAC contract, a base amount of $2.5 million with an add-on for second-story work of $315,000. Maccarone Plumbing was awarded the contract for plumbing and fire sprinklers, a base amount of $745,600 and an add-on for the second story for $79,900. MRJ Industries was awarded the electrical contract, a base amount of $680,935 with an add-on for second-story work in the amount of $280,875.

Mr. DiBerardino recommended a 5-percent contingency for the project. “A contingency fund is important for any project as it will serve as a safety net for any discovered conditions and any changes made during the construction of the project,” he wrote in a Feb. 8 memo to Councilman David Lys. “It should be noted that each contract already contains an allowance for unforeseen conditions or desired additional work.” Those allowances total $150,000.

For the latest phase of the landmark building’s renewal, “we’re going to start inside the building, probably with the hardest portion of the work, which is going to be excavation, footings, underpinning, and construction of the second floor,” Mr. DiBerardino said. “Then we’ll move out, once the heavy lifting is done inside the building and we know that we can work outside and not have to redo stuff that we’ve already done.” Site work will follow, he said.

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez called the $8.25 million raised by the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation toward the project’s cost “staggering.” The town is providing $5.5 million as well as a water quality grant of $114,000 for a low-nitrogen septic system. During a visit to the South Fork in October, New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, accompanied by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., announced a $1.75 million state award for the community center.

The foundation has indicated that Imagine Swimming, a New York City learn-to-swim school that had input in the design, will operate the aquatic center. Lars Merseburg, its principal, is a resident of Montauk and Manhattan.

The Playhouse, built in the 1920s by Carl Fisher, eventually fell into disrepair. In 1999, after a developer’s plans for the structure were opposed by residents, the property was donated to the town and the Playhouse Community Center Foundation formed. Restoration commenced in 2003, and three years later the eastern half of the building was reopened as a community center with day care programs, a fitness center, a senior citizens nutrition program, a town clerk annex, and recreational programs. 

“This is another milestone moment for the Town of East Hampton,” Mr. Lys said of the upcoming construction project, “and specifically the hamlet of Montauk.”




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