As allowed under City Charter, a petition was delivered to the city clerk asking that City Council rescind its vote regarding the borrowing order at the City Council meeting held on Feb. 5, to fund the renovation of the former Conte Middle School.
If the Council does not rescind their order, the decision to fund the Conte School project will go to a ballot question. The question will simply read "Do you approve the borrowing of $29,692,592 to pay for the cost of an addition and renovation of the Silvio O. Conte Middle School?" YES or NO
While I am fully supportive of this process as allowed under the City Charter, I first and foremost want to stress the importance and time-sensitive nature of this project and its relevance to our school system and city. I would also like all residents to understand that the city will be reimbursed at the rate of 80 percent by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. While the borrowing will be for $29.7 million, the final cost to the city will be approximately $6.5 million. This will be paid for without the need for tax override or debt exclusion, as is the case in many other communities.
After some 20 months of meetings, this project met with overwhelming support of our School Building Committee, our School Committee and the borrowing order in question was approved by City Council on Feb. 5 by a 7-2 vote.
The Conte project has received the full support of the MSBA with great enthusiasm of their board chair, State Treasurer Steven Grossman. All options for a new facility in the city have been studied and vetted through a very long, open and transparent process and I am very hopeful that our community will not allow this wonderful opportunity to slip away.
Over the next couple of months, there will be plenty of discussion and information provided that will help you make an informed decision. The hard decisions made by the School Building Committee, School Committee and City Council and the many thousands of dollars and many thousands of hours spent to get us to this point should be considered.
I will continue to support this project as the best possible option for our City and most importantly for our School System and the children we serve.
Thank you and more to come.
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright is also the chairman of the School Committee, in accordance with City Charter. The citizens petition asking for reconsideration of the school project borrowing was filed on Monday, Feb. 25.