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Moving the baseball field would allow for a different layout at Greylock School.

NA School Building Committee Considers Fields, Emergency Shelter

Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
04:46AM / Thursday, February 29, 2024

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Building Committee saw some alternative design options for the Greylock School project, including relocating Fallon Field to Noel Field and enhancing the emergency shelter capacity of the building.
Barbara Malkas, superintendent and committee member told the full committee Tuesday that over a series of working group meetings some new design options have come into the conversation 
"We have had a number of meetings. Many members of the committee have been involved in all of those meetings at various levels. The meetings have been very informative and have really brought us to where we are to date. We are starting to get to that place where the questions are getting much more specific."
The city is currently pursuing a school building project to replace Greylock with a new $61 million structure at same location to open in fall 2027. 
Jese Saylor of TSKP studio, the project designer,  said although no decision needed to be made immediately, he wanted to run some of the possible design options by the entire committee as they explore how they will impact the cost of the project.
One of these options includes moving Fallon Field to an existing baseball diamond within Noel Field, specifically the existing baseball/softball diamond between Joe Wolfe Field and the soccer pitch on Disanti Field. 
Rather than constructing a new baseball diamond on the Greylock School campus, as initially intended, Saylor said that it would be more cost-effective to relocate the amenities and upgrade the existing field at Noel Field. This approach would eliminate the need to build a new facility.
"Logically this would be less expensive. There is already a field there that is graded out," he said.
It also would make more room on the Greylock School Campus for pickleball courts and additional outdoor basketball courts.
Mayor and Committee Member Jennifer Macksey said she had presented the idea to the youth baseball league and other stakeholders. She said it is not necessarily a new idea.
"The possibility, and I say that in bold flashing lights, of relocating Fallon Field to Joe Wolfe, as most of you know, was something that was discussed 20, 25 years ago," she said. "It was spec'd out but never built out or fully funded. But this is a way for us to help with the space at Greylock School and enhance the baseball field. And get a full recreational field down at Joe Wolfe."
Moving on, Saylor said the working group also considered upgrading the building's emergency shelter status from a simple warming and cooling shelter equipped with a generator, to a FEMA standard emergency shelter.
In its simplest form, in the event of a power outage, the school could serve as a cooling and warming shelter, offering protection from extreme temperatures.
Going the extra step and making the building a true emergency shelter would include increasing the storm drain system to withstand heavier rains, increasing the steel tonnage to meet potential seismic activities, improving exterior glazing to withstand missiles, hardening the electrical system to protect against high waters and electrical shock and increasing storage capacity for water supply and wastewater.
Randall Luther, of TSKP, clarified that missile testing has nothing to do with ballistics. Instead, it signifies  that the building structure is capable of withstanding certain impacts, such as tree limbs blown around by strong winds, during severe storms like tornadoes or hurricanes. This improved building design ensures the building's integrity during such events.
Saylor added that these upgrades would probably just mean stronger laminated glass.
"It is an additional cost, but it isn't crazy," he said. "We aren't building a tank, although it sounds like we are."
He added that the shelter would likely only include a portion of the building. Specifically, assembly areas such as the gymnasium, the cafeteria, the kitchen and some of the second floor because the layout of the building allows it.
Macksey felt the group needed to at least explore the idea, adding that it would be an additional emergency shelter augmenting St. Elizabeth's current status as the city 's emergency shelter.
"I think we would be remiss if we didn't explore all of the opportunities around having this type of preparedness in a new building as we go through this process," she said. 
Saylor also discussed the gymnasium in the school and potential sizing options.
"We understand that the gym will be used by the community," he said. "There is a lot of need in North Adams for indoor basketball courts. So that is in there."
He said the options were to build out a high school-sized court or middle school-sized court.
He added that the bleacher side of the court would be able to hold 75 people. The opposite side would hold team seating, the scorer table, and other amenities such as the score board.
Mathew Sturz, Colliers International, the owner's project manager, also gave a brief financial and timeline update. He said the project remains on budget. He said the group is still on target to submit a schematic design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on May 2. 
The MSBA will meet on June 26 to discuss the project. Within 120 day of MSBA approval, the city will have to secure local funding for the project.

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