Superintendent James Brosnan explains the need for a dedicated space for McCann Technical School's nursing program at Monday's Planning Board meeting.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Planning Board on Monday night approved a 2,700 square foot addition to the McCann Technical School for its practical nursing program.
With the closing of the North Adams Regional Hospital, the program was left with incomplete facilities.
Northern Berkshire Vocational School District Superintendent James Brosnan said renting a facility is not an option, and it would be more effective to add an addition onto the building. Although the students are able to use the available hospital resources as well as other care providers in the area for the clinical aspects of the class, a designated area for the program is a must.
"We have 20 students and two faculty; it's a very small number, but we just need the space to set up a lab area so all the equipment can go with them," Brosnan said. "We have to have a lab facility with beds, nursing facilities, computers and surgical suites."
The one level, 30-by-90 foot addition will be built in front of the gymnasium facing Hodges Cross Road. Brosnon said it will be "self-sustaining" and will have its own bathrooms, two offices, storage, and three labs. He added that parking will not be an issue because the program takes place in the evening.
Darren Harris, of building designer Hill Engineering, said the addition is small compared to the rest of the building.
"It is probably a 2.5 percent expansion of the campus so we really don't feel it's any detriment to the neighborhood, to the utilities, to the city, to the traffic, or anything like that," Harris said. "It's basically the size of a large house."
Brosnan said the addition will not just benefit the practical nursing program, but many other students in McCann.
"The idea is that our students working with staff, or electricians, our carpenters, and our metal fabrication students will build out on the inside," he said. "It's an excellent project for the students, and it is certainly cost effective for us."
Brosnan said the program had used labs housed in the old Doctors Building on the NARH campus in an area renovated by McCann students eight years ago. He said the old space was closer to 3,000 square feet, but much of it was used for storage that is no longer needed.
Brosnan said the construction should start quickly because he would like to have the facility opened by Thanksgiving so students can use it. Bids for the project will be determined at Thursday night's School Committee meeting.
Planners also approved special permits for the relocation of two local businesses in the downtown.
Shima, operating as Alastair Grace LLC, has moved to 15 Eagle St. The children's clothing store is sharing space with Persnickety Toy.
Computer Bug, a retail computer business, will move from 91 Main St. to Shima's former location at 65 Main St.