Amherst seeks designer for elementary school building project

  • Children board buses at Wildwood School in Amherst. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2021 11:22:58 AM

AMHERST — School officials are seeking a designer to develop options for a new or renovated elementary school building at the site of Fort River School. 

A legal advertisement published Wednesday in the Daily Hampshire Gazette solicits companies for the project and the posting comes about a month after an earlier timeline for the building project that would have brought the designer on board in October.

Those interested in the work have to submit proposals by 2 p.m. on Sept. 9.

Margaret Wood, owner’s project manager from Anser Advisory of Boston, told the Elementary School Building Committee this week that once all applications are received they will be circulated to members of the building committee. A subcommittee will then meet and summarize comments to a designer selection panel by Nov. 2, and then a “shortlist” of three designers will be interviewed on Nov. 17.

Once a designer is selected, Wood said a fee will be negotiated with the company.

The original timeline for the project has the building committee, by the end of February, choosing a site where the project would be built, likely either at Fort River on South East Street or Wildwood School on Strong Street, and the Amherst School Committee would determine the grade configuration for the building.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority, which is authorizing the project, has given the town two options to pursue, one for a 575-student building that would house children from kindergarten through fifth grade, and take both Wildwood and Fort River offline, the other a 320-student building that would serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Under the former option, sixth graders from all three elementary schools, including Crocker Farm School, would likely move to the Amherst Regional Middle School building.

In June, Wood presented a timeline for a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion vote on the project in November 2022, with an approved project to break ground Aug. 1, 2024, and a completed building to replace Fort River and Wildwood elementary schools for fall 2026.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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