Selectmen want more info on Mill Hill costs, sidewalks, parking
FAIRFIELD — Almost a year after the Board of Selectmen requested more information and cost estimates for the Mill Hill School project, the school’s building committee returned to present their findings.
But even with the newly provided information and the estimated price tags, the Board of Selectmen is requesting additional details, this time on items like busing, sidewalks, traffic and student projection estimates.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau expressed concern about what he deemed an overloaded area with cars and with walkers, particularly on special events hosted at the school.
“I’m concerned about the lack of sidewalks and crosswalks,” Tetreau said at the May 1 meeting. “I’m not sure how that’s handled on a school morning...definitely worried if we had a 50 percent increase in load.”
The building committee — which has hired an architect, traffic consultant, an owner’s rep and a construction manager — presented schematics for the three different-sized schools in a meeting that saw several Board of Education members and concerned parents in attendance.
The total project costs — with construction costs included — for a 378 school would be $20.2 million, a 441 school would be $21.5 million and a 504 school would be $22.6 million.
The committee, in documents, said it’s not their role to pick and choose but said that the 441-size option is a choice that would give the town the advantage of “having a slightly larger school while providing the ability to build new classrooms without the necessity of spending incremental funds for portable classrooms to be used during construction.”
“The choice is not for the committee to make but to pass along our professional judgment,” the document reads.
The price tag for the renovation and expansion project is also a concern for the Board of Selectmen, particularly any potential differences between the building committee’s cost estimates and when bids are presented.
“We need some sort of basis so that we both understand where those numbers are,” Tetreau said after requesting a cost analysis by major categories for the design options and referencing to the Holland Hill project. “It’s something that has cost us issues in the past.”
The Board of Education has recommended and planned for a school with a 504 capacity at the site -- an important number to keep in mind as the district eyes potential redistricting plans and principle guidelines in the coming weeks.
Earlier in February of last year, the Board of Education unanimously approved educational specifications for the renovation projects at Mill Hill and Roger Sherman elementary schools.
Funds for the Mill Hill project, as with any large capital item, would need approval from town bodies including the Board of Selectmen, Finance and the Representative Town Meeting.
The Board of Selectmen is expected to vote on the Mill Hill project at their May 22 meeting, casting their choice on what school size they support.
“Our next step is going to the Board of Finance and then the Board of Selectmen for a vote,” Jason Li, vice chair of the building committee said Thursday morning. “Our next step is to get approval on one actual scheme and move forward.”