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Around Southampton: Norris School roof nearly completed; town still investigating possible public safety complex

  • A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.<br/><br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.


    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.<br/><br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • A worker from Greenwood Industries in Millbury works on the roof of Norris School in Southampton Monday.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

Workers were still on the roof of the William E. Norris School last week when students headed back to class, but the project to replace the roof is nearly complete.

“They’ve got a very aggressive schedule in place,” Hampshire Regional School District Superintendent Craig Jurgensen said of the roofers, Greenwood Industries of Millbury.

The roofers worked six days a week during the summer vacation to meet the Aug. 28 deadline for “substantial completion” set by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The MSBA has committed to reimburse the town for 55 percent of the total project costs if the work is substantially completed within 124 days of its start date.

“At this time, the primary work is on the sheet metal gutters and trim,” Jurgensen said. On Monday, the project manager inspected the site and created a “punch list” of things left to do, he said.

Jurgensen said that other than a little leakage that happened during a “heavy summer rain” during the construction process, the project is going very smoothly. And the fact that Greenwood Industries offered to complete the project for $922,000 is a big plus. That’s just over half of the $1.8 million that the town was expecting to pay.

After $53,000 for designs and to hire a project manager, the total bill is approximately $975,000. The MSBA will cover roughly $536,250 and the town will pay about $438,750.

Most of the roof is 26 years old, while the roof on a wing added in 1995 is 18 years old. During periods of rain, school officials have said, buckets were needed to catch drips and classroom supplies and $25,000 of carpeting had been ruined by leaks.

•••

Safety complex

Town officials have ruled out the possibility of building a public safety complex on land behind the Fire Station on College Highway, but a volunteer committee will continue to investigate if other sites would be appropriate.

The Public Safety Complex Committee completed a feasibility study and identified the parcel in the center of town as the best site for a complex. But tests revealed that the soil is not permeable enough for a septic system.

Now, the Select Board is considering which other town property the committee should investigate next as a possible construction site. The committee’s next choice is town land at the Transfer Station on Moose Brook Road, and the third choice is the Highway Department site on Fomer Road.

Charles Kaniecki, chairman of the committee, told the Select Board Aug. 29 that many public safety complexes are now built outside downtown centers. But Select Board member Michael L. Phelan Jr. was concerned that putting the complex on Moose Brook Road, about 1.7 miles from the center of town, would affect emergency response times.

Highway Superintendent and Select Board member Edward J. Cauley suggested that since the Highway Department is also in need of updated facilities, the town could consider building a new Highway Department headquarters at the Transfer Station and a public safety complex at the current Fomer Road site.

“Construction costs are never going to be lower,” Phelan said. “Do we just bite the bullet and do it?”

Board Chairman David A. McDougall said asking Town Meeting to OK borrowing to complete both projects would be a hard sell.

The board discussed asking the Public Safety Complex Committee to investigate the cost and other issues that could be involved with relocating the Highway Department for the sake of a public safety complex site, but tabled the issue.

•••

Development advances

A 10-home cluster subdivision proposed for farmland on Pleasant Street can move forward without interference from town officials since the Select Board waived its right to purchase the land for preservation.

The Conservation Commission had voted in support of the town buying the 30-acre property from owners Chester and Susan Kellogg of 90 Pleasant St. to prevent its development, but the Select Board voted against the proposal Aug. 29. The town could have bought it because it was restricted for agricultural use under the state’s Chapter 61 current use program.

Conservation Commission member Arthur Lawrence said he was disappointed, but not surprised, with the outcome.

“It’s not easy to come up with some big cash,” he said. The town does not have much discretionary money to spend and local land trusts he contacted couldn’t offer much help, he said.

While he is sad to see the property developed at all, he said the development is “very good” because it preserves some open space. The 10 homes on a cul-de-sac are clustered together on 9.9 acres, with the remaining 18.5 acres left as farmland.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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