Braving the elements as the snow storm closed in Tuesday night, Board of Education members convened their regularly scheduled meeting.
At least they got good news for their trouble.
The board was given an update from Fairfield Woods Middle School Committee Chairman Bill Sapone that the renovation/expansion project at the town's third middle school is on schedule in terms of construction and also is on budget with funding.
"We'll be going out for bidding for construction in the next few weeks," said Sapone during the "reports" portion of the meeting.
He added that the new classroom wing, being built where the former science wing stood, will be ready by the first week of September. The cafeteria, the media center and all work to make the school compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (including removing the split-floor layout of the media center) will also be completed by that time, Sapone said.
However, the auditorium and the gymnasium will not be wrapped up until sometime in January or February of next year.
While the project is on schedule, it's tight. Sapone said it took a few weeks to get the approval from the Bureau of School Facilities to seek bids on the work and we "lost some days here and there."
"There's no time to take a week off. We have to keep to the schedule," Sapone told the Fairfield Citizen. There is the potential roadblock in the form of a lawsuit by Marc Corcoran of Fairfield Woods Road, a neighbor seeking a temporary injunction against the project.
A "status/settlement conference" is scheduled on his complaint Jan. 18 in Bridgeport Superior Court. If the appeal cannot be resolved, there will likely be another hearing either later in the month or early February.
Corcoran takes umbrage with the Town Plan and Zoning Commission's approval last month for lot coverage on Fairfield Woods Middle School's property to expand from 15 percent to 20 percent. The extra space was deemed necessary to increase school capacity at the school from 650 students to 840 students and to add a 600-seat auditorium. Fairfield Woods is the town's only middle school without an auditorium. Corcoran's suit contends that when the expansion work is done, windows on two sides of his house will face the newly expanded lot and 3,850 square feet of auditorium walls. The appeal states, among other things, "there is no landscape design which can reasonably mitigate the impact" on Corcoran's property. Instead, every day school buses, cars, and pedestrians will be just 25 feet from his bedroom, living room and home office windows, and every evening the expanded lot is used, he will have to contend with headlights from the cars.
While a lawsuit can sometimes throw a wrench in a school's construction schedule, Sapone didn't seem too worried.
"We can always make it up (a possible delay) with additional shift work on the weekends," he said.
Summing up the hours put in so far for the renovation/expansion project, Sapone said, "It's been a lot of work, but everything is pretty much falling into place."