The next major step in the new high school project comes on Wednesday night during a Conservation Commission meeting.
School and town officials will be in attendance at the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, Room 9. It’s unlikely the Conservation Commission will decide on its approval of the school on Wednesday. Instead, a decision is expected during the second part of the presentation on May 9.
In order to proceed with the beginning of the construction timeline this summer, the Conservation Commission must approve the Notice of Intent.
“This is an important milestone in the project,” said Town Manager Michael Caira. “I think what the town will be able to show is that we’ll be in compliance with all wetland regulations. The end result in my mind is going to have a very positive effect on the environment.”
Superintendent of Schools Joanne Benton said the new facility would improve the environmental impact in the following areas:
- Stormwater will now be controlled, sediment removed, and water will be infiltrated on site (recharging the local water table) This will be done to LEED standards which are even more stringent than MA regulation
- The existing septic system will be decommissioned and sewage will be pumped into the Town’s waste water treatment system. The existing leach field is under the baseball field near the riverfront.
- The new building will be natural gas which will end the need for diesel fuel deliveries.
- The contaminated soil from the 1986 oil spill will be covered, mostly with parking, and the school building will shift away from this area. The AUL will remain in effect, but the investigations by the Project have found that the area of contaminated soil is significantly less than previously believed and should not be disturbed by the proposed work on the site.
- The bus loop off Adams Street will be removed and that area of Riverfront will be restored to natural uplands habitat. This includes ‘day-lighting’ the 30” storm drain line coming into the site from the street and providing opportunity to settle out sedimentation in that flow (currently the pipe discharges directly into the river area).
- The Town is in the process of cleaning up debris in the riverfront that has accumulated over the years
- The baseball outfield will be reconfigured, to replace the creosote railroad ties with a natural fiber reinforced slope, remove the gravel warning track, and shift the outfield fence in slightly to keep a 5ft offset from the mean high water line. Currently the outfield warning track is eroding into the river area.
During the meetings with the Conservation Commission, the town will spend time proposing the school as a whole, and also the turf field at Alumni Stadium, which was appealed by a group of 10 residents. The town eventually pulled its proposal with the intention of resubmitting during this portion of the process.
Benton said if the Conservation Commission gives its approval, the demolition of the gymnasium and installation of the artificial turf will begin this summer.
“The town remains confident and optimistic that the construction will proceed as planned,” said Benton.