North Adams Seeks Extension on MSBA Study Agreement

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Building Committee is asking for an extension of the timeline of the $61 million Greylock School project. 
The idea of an extension has come up several times over the past year in terms of meeting the design and funding deadlines. 
"We will be requesting a feasibility study agreement extension and the logistics of that are being discussed with the MSBA as to exactly how much time we would request," Matthew Sturz of Colliers International, the owner's project manager, told the committee on Tuesday.
The project to build a new Greylock School entered the schematic design module after the feasibility study was accepted by the Massachusetts School Building Authority last November. According to the current timeline, a design would be submitted to the MSBA by May 2 for a vote on June 26. 
At the same time, it is entering funding process with the expectation of a borrowing authorization by the City Council in September.
"The extension would need to be through the board of directors' meeting on the 26th and beyond that point by statute," Sturz said. "We have 120 days sort of built into the existing feasibility study agreement to get us to an anticipated City Council vote."
He learned that the director of the MSBA could grant up to a six-month extension; anything more would have to be approved by the agency's board. 
"We're going to work through crafting that extension request formally over the next week or so and get that process underway with MSBA," Sturz said.
Superintendent Barbara Malkas reported that the design working groups have begun meeting. A "productive" meeting of the school safety committee was held on Friday, with another planned next month, and a general education session was held on Tuesday with faculty from both Greylock and Brayton elementary schools.  
More sessions are planned this week with specific grades, programs and staff.
A finance committee meeting is set for Feb. 14 and facilities and operations is planning a daylong session to discuss technology, zoning and recreation. A virtual meeting for sustainability and energy efficiency has not yet been set. 
"I think it's been pretty informative for folks to kind of understand what the design team's preliminary thinking is," said Malkas. "And then really seeking that feedback and input at this stage as we enter into that schematic design phase."
Sturz said the working groups will be giving feedback to the design team to incorporate into the schematic design and "such that we're delivering a design that is a highly tailored to the way that you would like it to be and the way that you will use the building."
Jessie Saylor of the project's designer, TSKP Studios, said the working groups were given early visualizations of room layouts with furniture.
"I find that just in general people understand this stuff when they see furniture in there and they start to think of how many people that implies," he said. "These kinds of visualizations we find help create discussion."
A 3D rendering of a prekindergarten classroom, for example, raises discussion about the use of cubbies, their size and orientation and how that affects the layout.
"It's important to have these discussions early in the process so that we can plan for these things and meet your needs in that way," Saylor said, adding that the process right now is in "meeting mode."
He anticipated having enough details to send to the estimators by the end of March. 
In other business, the committee will meet briefly next Tuesday to approve an amendment to TSKP's contract regarding the hiring of a site surveyor subcontractor.
The hiring falls under TSKP's purview but the environmental and site budget line item to fund it did not. 

Tags: brayton/greylock project,   

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North Adams High School Athletes Place Flags on Veterans Graves

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Raegan Keil, daughter of VSO Mitchell Keil, participates in placing the American Flag on veterans' graves. The first flag she placed was in the marker of Michael Kline, her grandfather.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Athletes from Drury High School and McCann Technical School gave up the rare free Saturday morning to place flags on veterans graves in Southview Cemetery.
"I was very humbled when I saw the cars coming in, and I actually had to go over to the corner and put my sunglasses down and hide my tears, because it was very, very humbling to see everybody show up," said Travys Rivers, the city's veterans grave officer.
Rivers, a firefighter and veteran, said he sent out the "bat signal" and called John Moore of Drury and Robin Finnegan of McCann to see if any of the sports teams were free.
River said he was unsure what to expect, knowing many student athletes likely had games or practice. But come Saturday morning, around 100 students showed up with coaches and high school athletics administration. 
"I am amazed by these kids. They gave up a Saturday morning. They could have slept in if they didn't have practice or whatever," Rivers said. "They did not have to do this but instead came down and busted their butts."
Northern Berkshire Veterans Service Officer Mitchell Keil added that he often hears that the youth do not participate in civic activities. He said Saturday proves the opposite.
"As a veteran, it is heartwarming to see this type of participation from today's youth and encouraging for the future of the community. They may not understand the impact their involvement has on those that see them in action or those family members that visit a departed loved one's grave and see them continuously honored," he said. "Our city has a large group of individuals that are dedicated to honoring those veterans that have passed. This long tradition is in good hands, and as we move forward I encourage all to take part in the pursuit of honoring our veterans daily."
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