February 24, 2009

Land purchase draws near for Matthews Street school site

The city will likely complete the purchase of a 17-acre proposed school site on Matthews Street soon.

There is “a good chance” the deal will be finished by late March, said Steven DeVaux, the assistant school superintendent for business.

The city is also moving forward quickly to buy a neighboring 12-acre parcel, for which DeVaux said “there is no impediment” blocking negotiations.

While officials aren’t talking about the price tag, records submitted to the City Council last fall showed preliminary estimates of the two sites together costing about $1.7 million. The state would pick up 74 percent of the tab as long as the project isn’t derailed.

The Board of Education plans to construct two new 900-student schools, one on Matthews Street and the other beside the existing Greene-Hills School on Pine Street. They would serve students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

It is unclear where negotiations stand for the Pine Street site – the former Crowley car dealership – but officials are still pursuing it.

Another element that could still pose a problem is that the state is required to begin construction by June 2010 or lose the state reimbursement that makes the project possible.

Officials are trying to get a year’s delay so they don’t have to rush architects who haven’t yet been hired and potentially wind up with buildings that could have been better if there had been more time to fine-tune designs.

The West Bristol School Building Committee is preparing to interview six construction management firms in order to recommend hiring one to oversee the Matthews Street project.

The city plans to hire construction managers for both sites, hoping that experts on site can ensure the work is done as cheaply and as well as possible.

Michael Audette, chairman of the West Bristol school committee, said that reading through the 15 proposals submitted by construction management firms was enlightening for him.

Since it’s a different field from education, “I learned a lot” said Audette, the principal of O’Connell School, one of four older schools slated to close when the new ones open.

The project is slated for completion in 2015. It isn’t yet known whether the year’s delay in starting construction, if granted, would push back the opening of the new schools.

When the land purchases are finished, committee members said, they’ll feel relief.

“I’ll be real happy when we have that done,” Audette said.

Next West Bristol school panel meeting

Monday, March 23 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 36 at the Board of Education.

Next Forestville school panel meeting

Thursday, Feb. 26 at 3 p.ml. in Room 36 at the Board of Education.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stupid move.
Stupid move.
Stupid move.