Architect Dorrie Brooks of Jones-Whitsett presents to the Mount Greylock School Committee.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee discussed two exterior improvements to the campus this week that it hopes to make in conjunction with the $64.7 million addition and renovation project under way at the junior-senior high school.
The committee agreed with its School Building Committee that a renovated parking lot should be kept in the project if contingency fees are available, and Greenfield architectural firm Jones-Whitsett presented options to redo the athletic fields at the school.
The parking lot question generated little comment on Tuesday from the members of the School Committee, two of whom serve on the building committee.
Chris Dodig did ask when the district would have an idea whether enough remained in the contingency account.
Owner's Project Manager Trip Elmore of Dore & Whittier Management Partners told the building committee this month that the final status of the contingency fund will not be known until the project is completed. But he also said that it is a good sign that the project, as of the Sept. 7, had not touched the $2 million owner's contingency set up at the outset.
On Tuesday, interim Superintendent Kimberley Grady told the School Committee that some minor items have hit the contingency account, but "to be this far along in a project and just hit that is a good place to be."
"Trip feels confident we'll know [the potential contingency balance available] by the end of December," Carolyn Greene told her colleagues on the School Committee.
The committee voted 7-0 to concur with the School Building Committee and keep the $700,000 parking lot renovation in the project for now.
The parking lot -- if and when it is renovated -- would fall outside of the Massachusetts School Building Authority's reimbursement to Mount Greylock; the cost would be borne entirely by the district.
Likewise, work on the school's athletic fields would fall outside the MSBA-funded portion of the project. However, some of the current fields are out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the multimillion add/renovation to the school building means that the entire property must be brought into ADA compliance.
That renovation was one of 11 potential projects that the School Committee in February hired Jones-Whitsett to look at in a feasibility study as the committee considered how best to allocate a $5 million capital gift from Williams College.
Dodig, who headed a School Committee working group to look at the gift, reminded his colleagues that the working group's recommendation is that the district try to keep at least $1.5 million of the gift in a building endowment for future maintenance needs, invest up to $500,000 in new space for Mount Greylock's central administration (i.e. superintendent) office and use some of the remainder for renovation, ADA compliance and storage space on the grounds.
The MSBA does not fund square footage for the central administration, which has been housed in Mount Greylock for years, so it was left out of plans for the new building. But how much space will be needed for the administration is not known until November special town meetings in Lanesborough and Williamstown to decide whether to expand the Mount Greylock district to include its two elementary schools; should that vote fail, it is possible that the current "Tri-District" shared services agreement will be scrapped, and Mount Greylock, Lanesborough Elementary and Williamstown Elementary will each hire its own superintendent, director of pupil personnel services and business manager.
That leaves the fields to be dealt with, and Jones-Whitsett presented the School Committee with three scenarios ranging in cost from $540,000 to $2.8 million.
The lowest cost option involves recrowning and soil improvements for some of the fields, larger backstops for safety on the junior varsity baseball, junior varsity softball and varsity softball fields, parking at the varsity baseball field and the removal of the non-ADA compliant bleachers and press box on John T. Allen Field, where the school plays soccer, football and lacrosse.
Option two, with an estimated price tag of $1.9 million, would build new bleachers, a press box, a small concession area, toilets and a storage and maintenance garage. It would keep all of the sports where they are currently played but also relocate the bleachers to the west side of Allen Field, between the football and softball fields, to allow spectators at more fields to access the restrooms.
The water would be shut off in the winter, and the building would be accessed seasonably, used in the winter only as a warming station for cross country ski meets.
The most expensive option, at a cost of $2.8 million, would take advantage of the land where the current school sits and build a new multipurpose field with lights, bleachers and a press box to the west of the new school's cafeteria and auditorium.
Jones-Whitsett also priced a couple of alternatives that could worked into the three scenarios: $670,000 for an eight-lane track, $80,000 for outdoor basketball courts for students recreation and a turf field, which is estimated to cost $685,000 on a renovated Allen Field or $225,000 if it is installed on a new field under option three.
"The bare bones [$540,000] plan means we're going to exist without bleachers and without the bathrooms, concessions and storage," Dodig said. "As soon as we add the bleachers in, we have to add the bathrooms in.
"For me, one of the major decisions to think about is having a new field or no new field between [options] two and three … and whether we can raise money for things like a turf field."
Among the advantages of a new field -- whether turf or natural grass -- is that it would relieve pressure on the current Allen Field, where two varsity soccer teams and football play in the fall and four lacrosse teams (boys and girls varsity) play in the spring.
Although school officials had dreamt of having newly renovated fields ready for the first full academic year in the new school building, that appeared unlikely during Tuesday's discussion. While designing the new fields and putting them to bid in time for the summer construction season is theoretically possible if the committee moves quickly, the reality is that the Mount Greylock campus will be a total construction zone this summer as general contractor Turner Construction races to raze the old academic wings and, potentially, install a new parking lot before September.
The School Committee members agreed on Tuesday to revisit the field discussion at their next meeting and, in the near future, put together a request for proposals for an architect to do the next level of design based on the Jones-Whitsett concept the committee favors.
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Clark Art Virtual Writing Programs
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Clark Art Institute will offer two free virtual writing sessions in celebration of spring at noon on Tuesday, March 9, and Tuesday, March 16.
Each session features different works from the Clark's collection as inspiration for workshops led by members of the Clark's Education Department.
The interactive virtual program is open to all regardless of experience and offers participants a focused writing session to encourage their creativity as they write their way through a series of open-ended prompts inspired by selected paintings and works-on-paper that feature spring themes. Participants may share their writing with the group at the conclusion of the program or they can opt to remain anonymous. In addition, all participants will be provided with additional nature writing prompts to use on their next springtime visit to the Clark's Ground/work exhibition.
Online registration is required; space is limited to 15 participants per session. Registration for the March 9 session closes at noon on Friday, March 5, and registration for the March 16 session closes on March 12, or when capacity is reached. Registrants will receive an email with a private link to this live virtual program before the event. Visit clarkart.edu/events to register.
Mount Greylock Superintendent Jason McCandless and Business Manager Joe Bergeron met virtually with the town panel — not to discuss specifics of the FY22 budget the district is formulating but to discuss some of the inputs that help build that budget.
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Making a stop at West Parish Elementary School, Baker said educators, who were next on the state's priority list for its phased vaccination rollout, will be able to schedule appointments starting Thursday, March 11.
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Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday said the commonwealth has been told to expect a "lot more" of the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month.
In the meantime, he stressed that all vaccines are safe and effective and encouraged residents to get whichever vaccine they can... click for more