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Latest High School Building Presentation Tackles Town Meeting Questions, Design

Sewer connection needed for project to move forward.

The High School Building Committee made a presentation Tuesday night, notifying the public of changes made in the cost, proposed design of and the questions being asked at the June 6 Special Town Meeting for the June 11 ballot vote.

The Schematic Design submittal is due Friday, April 15 to the MSBA, and this meeting summarized that submittal.

The most recent price tag for the project is $32,700,000 before MSBA reimbursement. With a 58 percent contribution, it will cost the Town of Norton $14,067,500. Up to 62 percent could be reimbursed.

When that agreement [scope and budget] is negotiated, we will know exactly what the reimbursement rate is,” said project manager Margaret Wood of Pinck & Co., noting that the rate will come well before Town Meeting.

Other funding sources may include National Grid, who could contribute as much as 50 percent of the cost of some electrical items, and Columbia Gas, who may contribute a portion of the cost of some heating items.

A calculator to determine individual household costs will be available at http://www.nhsbuildingproject.org/.

Items such as the elevator, roof, ceiling, doors and windows will need to be replaced. Changes to the existing building include interior walls, room uses, stairway railings, auditorium seating and entrance and the location of administrative offices.

The addition will house the cafeteria, kitchen, new science classrooms and labs, two staircases and an elevator.

New HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems are also needed. The HVAC system could save about $45,000 a year, said Greg Smolley of JCJ Architecture.

“The project overall, is 66 percent in this building, 66 percent of the cost,” Smolley said.

One of the questions at Town Meeting will be the combination of the building project and a connection to the town sewer. This would connect with Yelle Elementary, putting three of five schools on public sewers.

Even if voters approve the school building project, without the sewer connection it cannot be done. The MSBA does not reimburse for sewer or septic work. However, the expansion will be done right behind the septic tank, causing the two projects to be directly linked to one another. Margaret Wood of Pinck & Co. has been in discussion with the MSBA to see if any reimbursement related to the sewer connection can be given.

“They showed some flexibility,” said project manager Margaret Wood of Pinck & Co. “I think it’s still open to debate whether they may be willing to cover some of the cost, but that’s part of negotiation that will take place between now and the completion of the scope.

“We don’t want to make any promises at this point,” she added.

Paul Helmreich, current member of the Finance and School Building Committee, noted that the sewer project is not new. The design for the connection was done in 2007.

"We saw this coming," Helmreich said.

Another question at Town Meeting will be for a new base running surface for the track and new aluminum bleachers for 800 people, and a press box.

Kevin O’Neil, who is chairman of the athletic complex committee, expressed concern about the track and bleachers during a recent school committee meeting. The bleachers do not have railings, and the track is cracked. Neither can be reimbursed by the MSBA.

Another informational meeting will be sponsored by PRIDE of NHS Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.

For a virtual tour of Norton High School, tune into channel 15 at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. or watch online at nortontv.org/educational.html.

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