GHS Construction

High school construction project manager dies in N.H.

GREENFIELD — James Byrne, who has overseen the Greenfield High School construction project for nearly three years, died suddenly Saturday while hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He was 60.

Employees from his company, the Marlborough-based Construction Monitoring Services, assured town officials at a Tuesday construction meeting that the project would stay on track.

Paul Griffin, who has run the company with Byrne for the past 14 years, will now lead the project management team. Two other employees, Azadeh Griffin and Neil Joyce, have been traveling to Greenfield for weekly meetings and will continue to stay involved.

“I have 100 percent confidence in the outfit as a whole, from top to bottom,” said Timothy Farrell, chairman of the high school building committee. “I have no doubt that they can take the project from where Jim left off and run with it.”

The town selected Construction Monitoring Services in December 2010, after interviewing three project management companies. Byrne then helped the town hire Dore and Whittier Architects a few months later.

After helping the town submit its plans to the Massachusetts School Building Authority and win voter approval to fund the project, Byrne worked with committee members to hire the project’s general contractor. Legal issues arose that complicated the town’s first choice but the committee then selected Shawmut Design and Construction, which has headed construction ever since.

“(Jim) gave us all, I think, a feeling that we had the right guy on our side to make sure the project got done right — correct, on time and under budget,” said Farrell.

Joyce, an employee of Construction Monitoring Services, said the Greenfield High School project meant a lot to Byrne.

“We don’t anticipate any disruption of services, as devastating as the loss is both personally and professionally,” he said. “We’ll do what it takes to continue to support the project.”

The company is currently working on five projects across the state and Byrne was principally in charge of three, said Joyce.

But while the project management company is heavily involved during the planning stages of a project, it typically steps back during construction and checks in during the weekly site meetings, said Joyce. A separate clerk of the works — Jeffrey Dome, of the Shelburne Falls firm Dome Design/Build — is on site on a more regular basis to ensure construction quality.

Byrne was involved with construction for his entire working life, starting as a trade worker in carpentry and masonry, said Joyce.

An autopsy is pending to determine the exact cause of Byrne’s death.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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