At their October 31, 2017 meeting the Board of Selectmen voted FAVORABLE ACTION on the following motion (of Article 1 of the First Special Town Meeting within the November 14, 2017 Special Town Meeting):
That the Town re-appropriate the following amounts out of funds previously appropriated under Section 13, Special Appropriation No. 67 of Article 9 of the 2017 Annual Town Meeting, to be expended under the direction of the Building Commission, with any necessary contracts greater than $100,000 to be approved by the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee, as follows: (1) $300,000 for the purpose of further site evaluation services, including legal services, at the Baldwin/Pine Manor sites and site evaluation services, including legal services, at alternate sites, which shall include but not be limited to the Pierce School and adjacent properties, and the Baker School; (2) an additional $400,000, for further feasibility study on a single-site solution; and (3) a further additional $300,000 (or a total of $700,000 for feasibility studies), for further feasibility study on a multi-site solution should a multi-site solution be chosen. The evaluation and determination of a single- site or a multi-site solution prior to the expenditure of funds for feasibility studies referred to in (2) and (3) above shall include the options of constructing a new school and of demolishing, renovating, and expanding existing schools, with the determination of a single-site or multi-site solution made by the Board of Selectmen and School Committee with the advice of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee, after evaluation information has been received by the Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Ad Hoc Subcommittee and publicly presented for discussion to the extent advised by Town Counsel.
*It should be noted that this vote is identical to the Advisory Committee motion on this Article.
Article 1 seeks to re-appropriate funds previously approved by Town Meeting to study site alternatives to construct a new (9th) elementary school. The prior appropriation of $1.5 million was limited to feasibility study and schematic design services at the Baldwin School site at 490 Heath Street. However, it has been determined that, due to land use restrictions imposed by Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution, the “Westfield” Supreme Judicial Court case, and recently identified federal grant restrictions, the scope of a project at the Baldwin project requires additional consideration. In addition, the Board of Selectmen and School Committee have determined that other sites should be studied including, but not limited to, land at Pine Manor College on Heath Street, the Baker School site at 205 Beverly Road, and the Pierce School site at 50 School Street. The proposed vote under Article 1 seeks a total appropriation of up to $1,000,000 that is sequenced/conditioned as follows; 1.) $300,000 may be expended for comprehensive site evaluation services including legal, environmental engineering, architectural, land appraisal and related services on all possible sites under consideration. 2.) Following a public process, the boards may expend an additional $300,000 for feasibility design services. 3.) If, following the public process the boards determine multiple sites are preferred, it may expend an additional $400,000 (for a total of $700,000) for feasibility design services.
It is expected that the Town will hire a project manager to coordinate this complicated and time sensitive process. The study process will be strategic in order to spend the funds wisely and timely in order to make a decision to meet the Annual Town Meeting timeframe and to inform the Fiscal Year 2019 budget process (including a potential tax override proposal).
The Motion originally proposed for this purpose under Article 5 of the Special Town Meeting is no longer required and the Board of Selectmen will recommend No Action under Article 5.