The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 23, 2009

CCHS Master Plan committee tries to navigate the MSBA

One hour was enough at the October 14 Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) Master Plan Committee meeting, to report that the state has placed the high school on their list for “invitation to submit a feasibility study on a repair project,” and to determine that the meaning of this encouraging news is, in fact, quite murky. The good news, said CCHS Superintendent Diana Rigby, is that this designation grants the committee a chance to have a dialogue with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Rigby also reported that there is nothing, in the words of MSBA Director of Capital Planning Mary Pichetti, in this action that “precludes the committee from continuing their process of developing the master plan.”

However, there was also confusing news. The MSBA seemed willing to consider funding a percentage of a $37 million repair project, a figure that seemed not to refer to anything the committee has submitted. In a teleconference on October 14 with Pichetti and other MSBA personnel, it became clear that MSBA was referring to figures comparing repair and renovation from a 2005 study. Even then, the figure was $42 million. The MSBA also questioned whether it would be possible for the committee to “repurpose” some of the $250,000 presently earmarked for schematic design.

The committee, by its own admission, was confused by the MSBA’s information and concerned about whether the repair project designation would limit or preclude renovations entirely. Repair, according to the MSBA, means not adding any square footage, but can include a renovation of an existing building. The MSBA had no comment to make regarding whether the community would get funding for additions to the building complex.

During the teleconference, members of the master plan committee attempted to clarify the committee’s position with regard to funding the schematic design, reiterate what has been accomplished and submitted already, define the MSBA’s position on funding repairs and renovations and solicit their advice on how to proceed with next steps. Pichetti told the committee that they are “five to six months ahead of [MSBA] in the process.”

Moving forward

Rigby came away with only a general impression that proceeding with developing the master plan and considering the process for hiring an Owner’s Project Manager would be the best route. “A lot of our conversation,” she said, “is that we are trying to figure out what they’re telling us. We don’t understand them yet, but Mary Pichetti said to me that there is no downside to our continuing with our charge as planned, that the MSBA wants to establish a ‘capital roadmap’ for the project. Our best move, in my view, is to continue with master plan and to build our relationship with MSBA.” Committee member Louis Salemy, also a member of the Carlisle School Committee, added, “Standing still isn’t an option. We stood still in 2005 and it’s 2009. We have to move forward. The master plan will help the community define what they’re after and will feed into the discussions with MSBA.”

Elise Woodward, a committee member and a member of the Concord Board of Selectmen, agreed and added: “The MSBA is intentionally vague, and their process is not linear, not like ours. We have been invited to dance with them, which is great news.”

Committee Chair Michael Fitzgerald of Carlisle asked the committee to suggest agenda items for its next meeting on October 28, when contracts for architects OMR should be ready. Suggestions included:

• Prepare documents for hiring an Owners Project Manager.

• Public outreach: The committee wishes to notify the public of conditions at the school and “build consensus to move forward.” A recent pipe leak that caused thousands of gallons of water to flood a basement utility tunnel was noted as an example of the aging facility. The committee discussed scheduling a “vision-ing” session, to get the communities together to think about the future of the high school.

• A review of the committee’s charge.

• Form subcommittees to request budget information from the finance committees of both towns; investigate public/private funding partnerships; investigate green design opportunities and meet with Concord’s sustainable energy committee and Carlisle’s alternative energy and climate action groups.

Fitzgerald closed the meeting with the remark: “We need to continue on our path and move forward and come up with the recommendations we think are appropriate for the district according to our charge, and hope that we are in a parallel process with the MSBA.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito