RSC contemplates Warrant Article(s) for capital projects

Which, if any, Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) campus projects would be supported by voters at Town Meeting? That was the question debated by members of the Regional School Committee (RSC) during the December 11 meeting. Consultants from Gale Associates presented the recently completed feasibility study which included cost estimates for a variety of campus improvements including paving, parking, an amenties building for the football stadium, a new track and field, a field house/hockey rink and an outdoor learning center. See Table 1 for estimated costs for each project. 

Table 1 CCHS project   fixedGale grouped the possible projects into three plans with different combinations of parking, track and field house. Plan A includes 125 new parking spaces, a six-lane track with an eight-lane straight-away and a concessions building. Plan B has 80 parking spaces, a field house with one ice rink and a concessions building. Plan C has an arena with two ice rinks, a concessions building and 80 parking spaces. Projects within the plans can be implemented individually, although there could be some economies of scale if, for example, the paving and parking are done at the same time. 

Members of the RSC considered which, if any, projects to put forward as Warrant Articles for the Spring 2019 Town Meetings in Concord and Carlisle. Most prioritized the access-road reconstruction which includes paving the campus road from Walden to Thoreau Street and adding lights. Most committee members also supported additional parking, saying that it will help to reduce stress caused by the current parking shortage and will reduce the amount of time the administration wastes in dealing with the problem. RSC member Mary Storrs pointed out that the cost per parking space was around $4,000 and, when asked later, pointed out that students pay an annual fee for parking that is small in comparison to the proposed cost of the new parking lot and it would take many years to recoup the expense. 

It was discovered, after the high school and new football stadium were built, that the state requires a 45-toilet amenities facility, based on the seating capacity of the stadium. In the past, the bathrooms in the high school building satisfied the requirement, but the new building is 100 feet farther away and those bathrooms no longer qualify. It may be possible to get a 50% waiver, reducing the requirement to 23 restrooms. Superintendent Laurie Hunter announced that she has had several conversations with Concord town officials about the amenities building and, as long as the project is on the “to-do” list, the RSC does not need to prioritize funding it this year.

Impervious surface requirement

Because the high school campus is within the Concord Groundwater Conservancy District (CGCD), there is a limit to the amount of impervious surface allowed, potentially restricting new construction. The town’s bylaw allows for 15% impervious cover over the 19-acre campus; the RSC would need permission from town boards to go beyond the 15%. Gale consultants used aerial imagery to quantify the existing impervious surface at 20. 23%.The former high school used 22%. The three concept plans presented by Gale would result in impervious surfaces ranging from 20. 92% to 21. 99%. 

Warrant Article discussion

During the RSC meeting, Hunter announced that the MSBA is not going to fund a new Concord Middle School in this grant cycle. The middle school project was also turned down last year. The Concord School Committee is considering going forward with a middle school feasibility study and possibly building the school without state funding. Members of the RSC took this information into account while discussing possible Warrant Articles for CCHS campus projects. It was questioned whether Concord voters would approve a big middle school capital project as well as high school campus improvement projects. RSC member Mary Storrs said, “I am really concerned about middle school feasibilty study and having that be the only thing that gets passed . . .  I don’t want to put something out there that I don’t think will pass.” She added that she does not support any Warrant Article for the upcoming Town Meeting.  Hunter countered that it is better to put in a placeholder for an Article now. She said, “If we don’t put a high school Article in and then we don’t go forward with the middle school and then we have no captial [projects].”   

RSC chair Bob Grom asked whether they should have one Article that combines paving and parking or two separate Articles. Hunter suggested one Article and pointed out that, at Town Meeting, if someone wants to take parking out, they can make a motion. 

The deadline for deciding on Warrant Articles is January 3. The RSC has one more meeting on December 18, and will make a final decision then. ∆

Revised 12/12/18 SPH