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29WVN#29: All New School is Chosen Option

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  • waylandvoters
    Aug 9, 2004
      August 9, 2004

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Various observers submitted the following notes on last week's High School
      Building Committee meeting.

      HSBC Meeting August 5, 2004

      The Building Committee voted 9-0 at its 22nd meeting for a complete
      rebuilding of Wayland High School. Some members explained in detail why
      they ultimately decided against competing plans that would have preserved
      some buildings and the campus ambiance that students and many others

      The plan will be presented at a public forum on August 26.

      Since three proposals from HMFH Architects and Turner Construction Co.
      would cost roughly the same -- more than $50 million -- the decision came
      down to the best value for the money, committee members said.

      The winning proposal, Scheme 3, had been redesigned in recent weeks in
      response to complaints from neighbors that playing fields would be too close
      to houses.

      HSBC members acknowledged that Scheme 2, calling for some new building
      and some renovation, might be more popular with voters. A third proposal,
      almost entirely renovation, was hardly discussed. Committee members said
      they favored Scheme 3 because:

      -- Construction would be less disruptive to students and faculty.

      -- More money will go into construction rather than temporary buildings and
      other relocation expenses.

      -- New construction will last longer than renovated buildings.

      Members also said that if voters reject Scheme 3, the same design could be
      built in two stages. Member Eric Sheffels called it "a rational fallback plan."
      The committee said that if even one new building is constructed, existing
      buildings would have to be brought up to code, and this would be a waste of
      money if they are torn down a few years later.

      There was only a brief reference to a fourth option requested many times by
      the public: Do only the minimum required to bring existing buildings up to
      code, make them handicapped-accessible and perhaps add a new science
      building. The campus was built in the 1960s and 1970s and last renovated in
      1991. Member Cindy Lombardo said a phased project "is repulsive to me."

      The committee's plan assumes that the state will pay a considerable share of
      the cost. A rough estimate discussed was $16 million toward a $56 million
      project. But under the law signed at the end of July, the board that will
      disburse the money will not be created for some time, and when money
      begins flowing the state will first clear a backlog of more than 400 already-
      approved projects.

      Member Mary Lentz said she had been working with Wayland's Finance
      Committee to produce figures estimating the impact on taxpayers. Some
      existing town debt will be retired as Wayland takes on new debt for the
      project. It is possible to make interest-only payments for seven years, and the
      committee expressed confidence that Wayland would have to borrow only its
      share of the cost.

      Members instructed HMFH and Turner to explore ways to cut costs by, for
      example, reducing some classroom sizes and the size of the auditorium. They
      also expressed hope that a large new building could retain some of the
      atmosphere of the existing campus.

      "We haven't really designed the project yet," said George Metzger of HMFH.

      Among the comments during the brief period for public participation:

      -- Under the new Master Plan many other people also want to build things. If
      you start with a $50 million Hummer, what's left for other projects?

      -- The town must build a new salt shed. We have no choice and it will be

      -- You argued that Scheme 3 is best largely because it minimizes disruption.
      But, as the Middle School project showed, kids aren't adversely affected.
      Teachers and administrators may dislike it, but the students get along well.

      -- Scheme 3 encroaches on green space that is a beautiful aspect of the

      -- Because of the proximity of wells and wetlands, bringing the state
      Department of Environmental Protection as well as town boards into the
      process, won't there be considerable delays in getting permits?

      The committee plans to offer tours of the campus before the 7:30 p.m. forum
      on August 26, probably in the Little Theater. Check Wayland Voters Network
      for updates.

      Though the HSBC didn't discuss when the proposal might reach voters, Eric
      Sheffels predicted "a tough sales process."

      Steve Friedlaender of HMFG said the committee must make its cost estimates
      credible "so that no one feels the figures were rigged."

      Dick Amster of Turner recalled his personal participation in a school project in
      Hingham, where he was on a building committee. The Hingham plan failed
      three times before voters approved it. Amster advised the HBSC to keep trying
      if a first vote fails: "The fun is just getting started."

      Next HSBC meeting: August 19.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your friends
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair