NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The building project for Greylock School put on hold earlier this year was restarted Tuesday with the first meeting of the appointed School Building Committee.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority invited the city into the eligibility stage last December and there were plans for the building committee to begin its work by spring. But this was cut short by the arrival of the novel coronavirus and the process was put on hold.
"When we were approved for an invitation into the eligibility phase, the clock was scheduled to start ticking back in the spring," said Mayor Thomas Bernard, who is also chairman of the School Committee. "And then, COVID happened and everything was extended into the fall. So now we're at the point where we are going to start our clock ticking. In fact, we did that with a submission earlier this month, to start the process."
The constitution of the School Building Committee is the next step and Bernard noted this will be a multiphase process and is not expected that everyone will be continuing through entire project, if there is one. The city's last school renovation project, Colegrove Park Elementary School, saw a bit of turnover from the committee's formation to dissolution.
"Some of us will be continuing through every step and we may make some adjustments to many different phases," he said. "Just as requirements change, there'll be other opportunities for community voices and community input, particularly in later phases of the project."
Greylock Principal Sandra Cote said not much has been done to the school since an addition nearly 60 years ago. Greylock had been put forward as part of the school project a decade ago in a bid to have MSBA fund two schools — Greylock and what was then the closed Conte Middle School. The state rejected that idea and the School Building Committee voted to move forward with the $30 million Conte renovation and close Sullivan School rather than build one large school at Greylock.
That left the 70-year-old school as the last building up for renovation; both Brayton Elementary and Drury High School had had renovation projects about two decades ago.
"That leaves Greylock and here we are, 67 years after it first opened its door, and we're looking into the possibility of something that we can do to bring it up to the beauty that we have at Colegrove," Cote said. "So I want to thank you for your commitment and your time and I look forward to meet or to working with all of you on this project."
The committee will be looking at options for the elementary school, which dates to 1953. The 50,907 square-foot building serves 256 pupils in prekindergarten through Grade 6. MSBA's invitation is specific to the deficiencies noted in the SOI and includes studying the possible consolidation with Brayton Elementary.
Current members of the committee include Cote, the School Department's Director of Facilities Robert Flaherty, Office of Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie, parent Jennifer Downey, City Councilors Lisa Blackmer and Benjamin Lamb, former Mayor Richard Alcombright, real estate developer David Moresi, retired Greylock teacher Susan Candiloro, Director of Student Support Services Thomas Simon, School Committee members Tara Jacobs and Ian Bergeron, Building Inspector William Meranti and school Business Administrator Carrie Burnett. Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Roberts-Morandi was leading the meeting in place of Superintendent Barbara Malkas.
Only some are the core members for voting in filling categories required by the MSBA such as finances, construction, school and city officials, and community.
"Once we have the committee in place and once we decide who the voting members are, who the attending members are, who are the subcommittee members going to be, we have another month to put together the educational profile," Roberts-Morandi said. "Currently, what we want to look like, so what are our hopes and dreams. What do we envision education looking like for our students and what are the needs that they bring out from that."
Subcommittees will also look at maintenance, enrollment, and a set of checklists for the next submission. A feasibility study schematic design vote is scheduled for May 28 with training for the feasibility phase in June.
During this time there will be input gathered from the community and a local authorization to appropriate the money to complete the study.
"Those of you who know me know that Greylock is definitely near and dear to my heart," said Cote. "My hopes are that as we go through this project, it will be coming dear to you as well."
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State Declares 'Green Friday' in Support of Local Xmas Tree Farms
UXBRIDGE, Mass. — The Baker-Polito administration has declared Friday, Nov. 27, as "Green Friday" to encourage people across the commonwealth to visit their local farms and nurseries for Christmas trees, holiday plants, and holiday decorating needs.
To celebrate, state Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux participated in a Christmas tree-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge. In an effort to support the commonwealth's Christmas tree industry, the declaration of Green Friday encourages people throughout the state to visit their local Christmas tree farms to purchase their trees, holiday plants, ornamental swags, and wreaths to fulfill their holiday decorating needs.
"Our administration believes in the importance of supporting our farms by shopping locally and purchasing holiday decorations from one of the commonwealth's many family-operated Christmas tree farms," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "Now more than ever, it is a great time to spend quality time with your family while partaking in this outdoor activity which allows for proper social distancing."
Christmas tree season in Massachusetts provides hundreds of seasonal jobs at approximately 264 Christmas tree farms on approximately 2,801 acres of land from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. The sale of more than 82,524 state-grown Christmas trees contributes approximately $3.5 million to the commonwealth's economy each year. Christmas tree farms, which are often sited on soils that cannot support other crops, stabilize soil, which helps prevent erosion and protect water supplies. When chipped, the trees can be used as a renewable source of energy to be burned as fuel, used as mulch, or composted.
The mayor's remarks were largely to remind residents of the virtual tree-lighting ceremony being broadcast on Northern Berkshire Community Television starting at 6 p.m., that City Hall offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and as will the transfer station.
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The hashtag "GetBackMass" is part of the latest public awareness campaign launched by the commonwealth. The focus of television and digital advertising will be to promote the idea that "normal" activities can only resume after the threat of the novel coronavirus has subsided.
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