Life at SMC

“Up to Snuff”— a Conversation with SMC’s Construction Manager, Dan Sosolla

Pictured: Dan Sosalla, SMC Project Manager (left), Rosalyn Avent, SMC Development Manager (right)

By Rosalyn Avent //

To update the community on SMC’s construction project Rosalyn Avent sat down with Project Manager Dan Sosolla. Check out their conversation below:

Rosalyn Avent: Hi Dan, thanks for meeting with me!

Dan Sosalla: Hi Rosalyn, it’s my pleasure. I’m excited about this project and happy to tell our community about what we’ve been working on.

RA: Great! Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and your role in this project?

DS: Let’s see… I got my undergraduate degree in Construction Management and worked for a national company called Mortenson Construction for eight years. My work with Mortenson was in a supervisory and quality control capacity working on large commercial projects like hospitals and taller downtown buildings in Denver.

When I left Mortenson, I stayed on the construction side of things, framing houses in Boulder, and serving on the building committee for the Boulder Shambhala Center.

I volunteered at the Boulder Center, helping them with various projects, getting pricing, and talking to contractors. Eventually my name made its way into SMC executive director, Michael Gayner’s, hands, and here I am!

I have been working for SMC for about 15 months now. My role as SMC’s Project Manager is to make sure the key players are doing their jobs, and that we are spending our money wisely.

In regard to the organizational structure of this project, there are three key players: the project owner, the engineer, and the contractor. In this case, Shambhala Mountain Center is the project owner and we have hired Wright Water Engineers to design the project according to codes and standards. In the spring, we will hire a contractor. We have been in communication with a handful of contractors, all of which do amazing work.

It is my job to create this team of owner, engineer, and contractor so that if we run into any problems we can put our heads together and figure things out.

Working on a project from the owner’s side has been interesting and fun, compared to past projects I’ve worked on, this project is small, but the responsibility is big. And for SMC, this will be a huge improvement to the land.

To give you an idea of how big it will be, the wastewater collection system will reach all the way from our Red Feather Campus, through the downtown area and connect to our existing wastewater treatment facility:

We have almost 4,000 lineal feet of 8-inch pipe, which will connect to our main buildings and an additional 1,000 linear feet of 4-inch pipe which will branch off to smaller buildings.

During the project, you’re going to see a lot of displaced dirt and a lot of trucks driving around the work area. Considering the size of the Excavator (the primary digging equipment we will be using), we will have anywhere between 25-75 feet of disturbance.

RA: Wow. The land is really going to look different during construction. Could you tell us about the precautions SMC is taking to protect the environment?

DS: There are various environmental steps before, during, and after the project. We want to make sure we return the land to its original state and that we return fresh, clean water back into the watershed.

Because the digging will disturb a large swath of land, we have to be very careful about erosion control to make sure disturbed areas don’t wash away. Ways we do this are through mulching, hydro-mulching, and installing silt fence and other best management practices.

The wastewater collection system we are building is a much more environmentally friendly option than our current septic tanks. In order to adhere to the Clean Water Act, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has mandated that we discontinue use of septic tanks and leach fields. It’s a potential environmental hazard and we are working with the state to eliminate them all together.

It’s an exciting step forward for SMC. We have this state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility and not all of our buildings are hooked up to it. It’s not running at full capacity and we want to use it how it was designed to be used. It’s an incredible system and the water we put back into the watershed is so clean you could almost drink it.

RA: It sounds like the wastewater collection system is a critical step in protecting our land, but can you tell us why the project costs so much?

DS: The reason this project costs so much is because we are doing it to a very professional level and adhering to all the best practices.

It’s simply the cost of construction.

This will be a very deep pipe. There is a lot of digging, even some blasting, and the permitting adds an additional cost. We’re doing this right.

However, we will be saving money in the long run because we won’t have septic trucks coming all the way from Fort Collins every quarter to empty our septic tanks. Instead, we will have a permanent pipeline with manholes to maintain it.

SMC is going to be up to snuff on everything!

We have an amazing water source here and now we’re creating an amazing sewer system.

RA: So, when do we get started? It is my understanding that this project needs to be completed by the end of November 2018, is that correct?

DS: You’re right, Rosalyn. We are required by the state of Colorado to have the project substantially completed by November 30th, 2018.

“Substantial completion” is a construction term which is defined as an operational system with everything connected to the wastewater treatment facility and everything flowing.

The contractor will begin the permitting process in April 2018, and the official start date of the construction project will be August 20th, 2018.

RA: What will happen if we don’t finish in time?

DS: If the project hasn’t reached “substantial completion” by November 30th, 2018, the state of Colorado will hit Shambhala Mountain Center with daily fees high enough to shut us down. Not finishing is not an option for us.

This is a foundational necessity. A couple years after the project is done, you won’t be able to see it. It’s all underground and intangible to most visitors, but it’s so important.

We need to do this now.

RA: Thank you so much, Dan. It’s great to have you on the team!

DS: I’m happy to be here and I’m very excited for the construction to actually start.

Here we go, let’s do this!

This project cannot wait. Please help us complete our wastewater collection system by donating now. Click Here to Donate to SMC’s Capital Campaign

Thank you!


About the Interviewee 

Dan Sosalla is a Project Manager with Shambhala Mountain Center for the wastewater collection system project. Dan strongly believes in the Shambhala vision and aims to support SMC’s mission with his skills and knowledge of the construction industry. Before his connection with the Shambhala community Dan worked at Mortenson Construction for nearly a decade wearing many hats on high end commercial projects. Clients included Exempla Healthcare, General Electric-Renewable Energy, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Colorado Supreme Court. Dan is also supporting the Boulder Shambhala Center with a roofing project set for Spring 2018. In his free time Dan is an avid rock climber, discursive meditation practitioner, and serious fire chopin for SMC’s lhasangs.



  1. Keir says

    Hey Rosalyn remember me?!?! Keir from NYC we did an TEFL class together!

    Really want to know how you are these days.

  2. Reese McKay says

    It’s so good that we have someone with Dan’s extensive training and background in construction management to represent Shambhala Mountain Center in this process. Having worked for Mortenson is especially good, since they do projects just like this all the time, but usually much larger. I offer my best wishes and financial support for the project to go well and stay on time.

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