TPZ questions plan for portable classrooms at Holland Hill
Updated 6:49 am, Thursday, March 10, 2016
FAIRFIELD — While the newly formed Holland Hill Building Committee gets started on overseeing the renovation and expansion of the elementary school, town officials went before the Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday to seek a permit for two more portable classrooms.
The TPZ held a public hearing on the plan for portables, but no vote was taken. No members of the public spoke against the application, but commission members expressed reservations regarding the timing of the request.
It is expected the portables will be used at the Meadowcroft Road school for the next three years until construction to add classroom space to the property is completed.
TPZ Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi asked where on the property the school addition would be built, but architect Philip Cerrone said that has yet to be determined by the building committee. “That conversation hasn’t taken place yet,” Cerrone said, adding officials are looking to put the portable classrooms on what would be the least likely spot for the permanent addition.
“It seems like we’re putting the cart before the horse,” Alessi said, adding he believes a construction plan should be in place first. “You don’t need the portables to do the construction.”
Although the portable classrooms may be able to provide swing space during the construction project, Sal Morabito,the construction manager for the Board of Education, said the main purpose of the portables is to accommodate increased enrollment at the school and need to be in place by September.
Morabito said the portable classrooms could have been done as a separate project, however, linking it to the Holland Hill project makes some of the costs eligible for state reimbursement.
“We need these by Sept. 1 for enrollment,” he said. “We’re going to need them during the construction, also.”
Right now, school officials said, occupational and physical therapy sessions are being held in closets at the school, while music instruction is offered via a cart.
The portables would be fenced in, with two gates at either end that require a key card for access. Staff members would be stationed at the gates during student arrival and dismissal to give access to the sidewalk used by students. The structures are going to be installed at the front of the school. Existing portables at the rear of the school will be receiving fencing as part of districtwide security upgrades.
“I urge all of you to please support this project,” Board of Education Vice Chairman Anthony Calabrese said. “There’s overcrowding. During the day, they’ve got children literally in storage closets, learning. These portables will get them a little relief. This space is desperately needed.”