A groundbreaking for the Colegrove Park Elementary School is set for Wednesday at noon. Demolition work has already begun on the building.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Colegrove Park Elementary School renovation project will officially kick off at noon on Wednesday, May 21.
Officials from the Massachusetts School Building Authority will be on hand for the event, including state Treasurer Stephen Grossman, chairman of the authority's board, and Executive Director Jack McCarthy.
The MSBA is covering 80 percent of eligible costs for the $29.6 million renovation of the century-old school that in previous lives was Drury High School and Conte Middle School. The city will be responsible for about $6.5 million of the cost.
Conte was closed five years ago in large part because of budgetary issues; the city was also looking at a way to reconfigure the middle school model. The eighth grade was moved to the new Drury High School and worked out so well that it was decided to maintain a K-7, 8-12 school configuration.
The new Colegrove Park School, named by the School Committee last month, will replace the failing Sullivan School built on a hillside off Kemp Avenue in the early 1960s.
Demolition and abatement has already begun at the school under the direction of PDS Engineering & Construction Inc., the general contractor for the project. The upper set of concrete stairs leading up to what had been the main entrance have also been removed.
The School Building Committee was updated on the progress to date and on the groundbreaking ceremony at its Monday meeting.
The committee also discussed some options for the windows and signage but put off a decision for the moment.
Dorrie Brooks and Margo Jones of Jones Whitsett Architects provided images of what the school might look like with off-white or dark bronze mullions, frames and grids. Black or white had been deemed to "severe" against the historic yellow brickwork.
A third option from the "chocolate and vanilla" was the possibility of a twist: off-white mullions and bronze grids and frames. Jones said she had seen a building on the Cornell University campus with both two colors and "it looked nice."
The committee asked to see a better example of that proposal and how it would affect the cost. The off-white, preferred by Superintendent James Montepare, was considered as Plan B, although no votes were taken at the meeting.
The committee agreed on a two-line sign at the entrance of the driveway to say "Colegrove Park Elementary School" but couldn't agree on what the sign on the building should say. Jones Whitsett was looking at vertical lettering on the blank (elevator) wall at the entrance that could only accommodate "Colegrove Park" or "Colegrove Park School."
The mayor, however, wanted "elementary" be included "from a branding perspective." He asked about using the longer horizontal space above the new gym's windows that face toward the entrance or adding a second staggered vertical sign with "elementary school" on the elevator wall. The design team said they would look into it.
The mayor also reported that an agreement was nearing in the monthslong talks with Carver Family Dentistry on the easement for the retaining wall construction.
"We had a very, very productive meeting last week with Dr. Carver," he said. "The impediment was the loss of parking ... I think we've pretty much satisfied all of those things."
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