In a joint meeting on Tuesday, March 29, the Hopkinton Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Elementary School Building Committee worked on a draft of a letter to the Massachusetts Building Authority (MSBA) explaining the results of the vote on the new school. The letter was later finalized by Selectman Chair RJ Dourney and Superintendent Jack Phelan and has been posted to school’s website. The town is awaiting the MSBA’s response to see if Hopkinton can remain in the MSBA’s capital pipeline or if we will need to start again at the beginning with the Statement of Interest process. Read the full letter from Hopkinton’s leaders to the MSBA: http://www.hopkinton.k12.ma.us/newweb2/HESBC/HopkintonMSBA.pdf The town of Granby, Massachusetts is the only other town which failed to support a MSBA approved project. Granby has been removed from the MSBA capital pipeline although their vote failed by a much closer margin than Hopkinton’s vote.
At Tuesday’s meeting the Hopkinton Elementary School Building Committee also discussed how things could move forward using the work of the Center School Feasibility Study already completed, after determining what option would be supported by voters. A minor modification, for example, would be to change the grade configuration of the proposed school at Fruit Street. A major change, which would require a new MSBA vote, would be to pursue building on the Center School site. The Center School site was studied in detail during the feasibility study process, but new schematics would be needed at an approximate cost of $120,000-$150,000 funded solely by the town. The project architect David Finney explained in more detail about the constraints of the Center School site. Although the full site is 11.5 acres, there is a narrow lot owned by NSTAR that cuts across the Center School land. NSTAR has granted an easement on this strip of land to Tennessee gas and there is a natural gas pipeline running under it. Mr. Finney said he has verified that the gas pipeline is indeed there. He also stated that due to the topography, it would very difficult (expensive) to build on the land on the other side of the pipeline. There are approximately 4.5 acres at the front part of the Center School lot (from Ash Street to the NSTAR land) and an additional 7 acres behind the NSTAR strip of land. He stated that although a school could be built on 4 acres, this would be “an urban solution for a suburban town.” The proposed school on Fruit Street was designed on approximately 12 acres.
MSBA Letter in Response to Inquiry by Hopkinton Residents 3-11-11
Center School Principal Jennifer Parson expressed that there are real repair needs that will need to be taken care of at Center School for the time being. It was expressed by the boards they might be able to put some repair articles on the warrant for a Fall 2011 Special Town Meeting. In the meantime some partial ADA compliance work for Center School is already on the warrant for the May 2011 Town Meeting.
Hopkinton is waiting to hear from back from the MSBA on whether or not the Center School project will be kept in the MSBA capital pipeline or if Hopkinton will need to start again with the Statement of Interest (SOI) process (as they did in 2007). Over the next few months Hopkinton leaders will be working on a timeline to build consensus on what type of new or renovated building would be supported by taxpayers going forward, for example surveys, public forums and focus groups conducted with a variety of residents.