The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 31, 2008

Town to vote on school design funds in January

A Special Town Meeting has been set for Monday, January 12, to consider funding for the schematic design phase of the Carlisle School building project, expected to cost around $500,000. The Board of Selectmen voted on Tuesday, October 28, to support the work of the School Building Committee, and endorsed their selection of HMFH Architects to provide the design. Earlier this year, Carlisle was on a list of towns chosen by the Massachusetts School Building Association (MSBA) to begin the process of planning a new school renovation with the expectation of some state reimbursement.

School Building Committee (SBC) Chair Lee Storrs reported his committee had previously worked with HMFH and would like to continue that relationship. He said reference checks had been conducted and “they were very positive.” In addition, the committee visited some completed HMFH-designed schools and liked what they saw, noting in particular an ability to tie together new and old buildings seamlessly. The twelve members of the SBC voted unanimously to use HMFH, and the architect’s name has been sent to the state for approval.

When will Carlisle know the state reimbursement rate? Storrs reported the MSBA has been asked to deliver that information, along with revised enrollment projections, as soon as possible. Storrs anticipates that architect approval will also be forthcoming. An MSBA operative had told him reimbursement could occur as expenses are entered into, but this contradicted earlier information that a Town Meeting vote was required.

BOS Chair Doug Stevenson agreed with the choice of HMFH and noted he and several other Selectmen had attended the architect’s interview. He suggested the reimbursement rate is a critical piece of information to have before January, “In front of Town Meeting, we need to have our ducks in a row.” While the faltering economy might be a reason to wait on the project, the cost of construction is down. Stevenson endorsed going ahead, noting “We’ve been batting this around for a while. At some point there’s some kind of fatigue. We need to take a project to the town.”

“Keep going,” agreed Tim Hult, but he suggested a few caveats. “Continue to assess the readiness of the town,” and in this volatile economy, reconsider if “events occur that would cause us to say this is not the right time.” He also suggested there is a lot of work to be done to prepare the public, and proposed a joint meeting of several involved committees in late November or early December to look at the financial implications. Storrs agreed with the need for public education, and said his committee plans some open forums and an informational mailer.

The Selectmen voted unanimously to endorse the choice of HMFH Architects and to set the Special Town Meeting for January 12, 2009 with a Town Election to follow on January 20. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito