By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer

Construction management proposals from nine companies were reviewed Wednesday by the buildings and grounds committee and narrowed to five finalists, but members said there may be less need for that service if the Strough building is fully vacated during the upcoming $25.4 million project.

The project that is expected to take up to two years would be "less complicated in terms of scheduling" in an empty building, said Superintendent Jeffrey P. Simons, and in question is whether the school district can "complete the work with an existing clerk of the works" used for smaller-scale renovations; the clerk of the works, Robert J. Mihevc, is paid $47 per hour.

Simons asked what if the workload is too much for one person? The "administrative support" needed "may be more of an issue on a $20 million project," said Chris Crolius, a partner in March Associates of Utica, the district’s architect. Mihevc likely would need additional staffing help. The matter will be reviewed further, including presentations from the five management company prospects.

Based on Mihevc’s rate and the estimated two-year duration of the Strough work, using his services with the help of another person conceivably could cost in the $250,000 range, said Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Paul Rabbia afterward. Construction management for the Strough work was budgeted at $800,000.

The construction management finalists include: HR Beebe Inc. of Utica, $478,759; Watchdog Building Partners LLC of Rochester, $629,500; and three Syracuse firms — C&S Companies, $695,444; the Pike Company, $698,200; Lend Lease Construction Inc., $770,000. The district used a "request for proposals" process rather than formal bids, and is "not obligated to go with the lowest cost vendor," said Director of Business and Finance Christopher Abdoo.

The overall project, which could begin in 2013, will be funded through a public bonding referendum approved in December.