Schematic design unveiled for new high school project
Date: 2/15/2010Feb. 15, 2010
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
LONGMEADOW - Despite the budget woes the town of Longmeadow is facing, the new high school project is moving forward.
A public forum on the project took place Thursday evening, during which members of the School Building Committee unveiled the site plan and schematic designs completed by OMR Architects. They also reviewed updated cost estimates and what the impact on taxpayers would be.
School Building Committee Co-President Christine Swanson reviewed the figures, starting with the total project budget of $78,452,888, which is approximately $2 million less than the estimate discussed in September 2009. Of that total, $16,124,826 cannot be paid for with Massachusetts School Building Authoring (MSBA) monies - that amount would cover the renovation of the 1971 wing of the building, site work, demolition of the older parts of the current building, hazardous material abatement and fixtures, furniture and equipment.
The remaining total - $62,328,062 - is eligible for 51.84 percent MSBA reimbursement, which means the town's share of the project equals $46,142,020.
"The numbers are still subject to change but we feel these are pretty accurate," Swanson told those in attendance. She explained that taxpayers would only pay interest on the total while construction was underway, then outlined what an average homeowner in Longmeadow could expect to pay each year, starting in fiscal year 2011 (FY11), for the project.
The average home in Longmeadow is valued at $350,000. If the school project is locked in at a 3.5 percent interest rate, the average home would pay $11 in taxes in FY11, $65 in FY12, $150 in FY13, $580 in FY14, $567 in FY15, $557 in FY16, $546 in FY17 and then decreasing three percent each fiscal year after that. The average payment for the life of the bond would be $450 a year.
Noah Luskin of Josslin Lesser & Associates Inc., the owner's project manager, said that if the project is approved, work could begin this summer with the demolition of the current administration wing. Luskin said he expects construction to take about two years, starting in April 2011 and finishing in time for opening in September 2013. The areas of the building that require renovation would be worked on mostly during the summer months.
As for the schematic design, Superintendent E. Jahn Hart explained how the new school would look. An L-shaped building, the main entrance would be at the corner of the two large wings, opening into a large lobby, facing the auditorium. The cafeteria, media center and auditorium would all be at the center of the school; all the classrooms would be grouped together in the new portion of the building on two floors. A new gym would be constructed, and the pool, LCTV and the district offices would all be housed in the renovated 1971 wing.
"I feel the replication of our vision is well represented [with the plans OMR Architects created]," Hart said.
The School Building Committee submitted the schematic designs to the MSBA on Friday. The next step in the process is to finalize the scope and budget of the project with the MSBA on March 31. From there, the project will need Town Meeting approval on May 25 and a majority debt exclusion vote in the polls on June 8. If voters choose to go ahead with the project, the design will be finalized and construction can begin.
The School Building Committee will be hosting another forum on the project on Feb. 25. For more information on the new high school, visit www.longmeadow.org/sbc/index.htm