By Alex Malm
During the Oct. 12 Planning Board meeting, one of the agenda items was in regards to a workshop on the Capital Improvement Plan.
Planning Board member, Jeff Penta, questioned the rating for the elementary schools as a “2”, which means the project is deemed as necessary. He said that aside from the first two phases of Moose Hill, the rest of the schools are likely six years out and thought that it should be reflected in the CIP as that.
The project description states, “Renovations and construction of new areas to address current educational needs for all three elementary schools.”
“All three elementary schools are simply “old”,” the draft CIP states. “Since they were built, the methods of teaching, the curriculum have all changed significantly. Structurally, the buildings may be OK, but the HAVC system, roofing, current security needs, etc. all should be evaluated, and most likely replaced.”
In total the project estimate is $127 million.
Penta said he wanted it to break out the different projects and asked if the rating could be changed.
Comprehensive Planner, Amy Kizak, said the project will be looked at again next year.
“This gets revisited every year,” said Kizak.
Penta stated ultimately he wanted the ratings to be as accurate as possible based on what is happening right now.
“This is a huge ask for the town and I want the information to be as accurate as possible,” said Penta.
Planning Board Ex-Officio, Deb Paul, said it makes sense to put it as a four or five rating so people know what it is rated as of now and if there are new members of the Board in the future they don’t think that the current Board thought it was a top priority right now.
Planning Board member, Ann Chiampa, said she wanted them to prioritize the needs versus the wants for the high school project in order for it to get approved. The high school, which had an estimated cost of $98.75 million for the different proposed projects was rated as a 3, which means desirable.
“That might be more amenable to the public,” said Chiampa.
Kizak said they are needs and not wants based on the 10 year master facility plan.
“That will be discussed further by the school board,”
Chiampa said for example she wanted to see the gym and auditorium to be separate.
Planning Board member, Jason Knights, said he felt it made sense to have one budget number.
“I think it does make sense to have it part of the larger number,” said Knights.
Town Council Chairman, John Farrell, said it is the first time in 15 years that he wasn’t on the CIP committee, the CIP is used for transparency and so people know what might be coming.
He added that by changing the rating they would take that visibility away.
“You’re taking away the visibility,” said Farrell.
He stated they should continue to have discussions about it.
“You want to have it part of all conversations,” said Farrell.
The Planning Board ultimately approved changing the rating for the elementary school project to a five, which stands for being “premature.”
The Planning Board will be holding a public hearing for the CIP plan during its Nov. 9 meeting starting at 7 p.m.