Reconstructing Watertown’s public schools and renovating some of the parks in town made up a significant part of the conceptual recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2020-24 Capital Improvement Plan, which were approved by the Town Council on Tuesday.
The Capital Improvement Plan covers five years, and includes more than $503 million in possible spending on construction, building repairs, vehicles, and equipment. The amount budgeted for Fiscal Year 2020 (which starts July 1, 2019) is $11,196,937 or about 7.6 percent of the total Town Budget.
On Tuesday, the Council gave approval to a list of 29 conceptual recommendations on the FY20-24 Capital Improvement Plan. Much of the work will be paid for by money borrowed by the Town, but some will be paid through the money collected through property taxes, grants and other ways.
The current estimate is $170 million for the construction of new schools at Cunniff and Hosmer, and a thorough renovation of Lowell. At the same time $5.3 million in repair projects have been removed from the list. The capital plan includes $1.5 million for project planning and design for the three elementary school projects.
The high school project is estimated to cost more than $157 million, which has been put into the Capital Plan. Slightly more than $14 million in renovations at WHS have been taken out of the plan.
Some work will be done on the schools, including $288,000 for Middle School renovations to girls locker rooms and bathrooms, $140,000 for HVAC upgrades and $165,000 for an emergency generator for the Phillips School Administration Building.
Another $1,182,500 has been set aside for school projects, including remodeling bathrooms and renovating the boy’s locker rooms at the middle school, replace classroom laminated floors, replace boilers, design a new fire protection system
Half a dozen park projects made the list, too. The work would cost more than $10 million, but the Council put some conditions on the approval.
The projects include:
- $3 million for construction of the improvements to the Victory Field track and courts area (known as Victory Field Phase 2)
- $4.5 million for design and construction of improvements to Arsenal Park
- $900,000 for design and construction of Moxley Park Courts renovations and lighting
- $950,000 for design and construction of improvements to the Casey Park baseball area
- $900,000 for the construction of lights and scoreboard upgrades at Filippello Park
- $300,000 for the Saltonstall Park lighting
All these projects have conditions. The Victory Field project has the least, simply requiring the work to follow the recommendations in the report made by the Ad Hoc Committee on Victory Field Phase 2.
The Moxley Field, Casey Park, Filippello Park, and Saltonstall Park projects will require the Recreation Department to hold community meetings to develop a design proposal and have one or more informational presentations to the Town Council.
The project at Arsenal Park has the most complex set of requirements. Community meetings will be held to help develop the project, which falls under the Conservation Commission’s authority. Since money has been promised by the developers of Arsenal Yards, Boylston Properties, one of the goals of the meetings is to make sure that the work is consistent with the improvements proposed as part of the developer mitigation. A presentation to the Town Council will also be required.
Some other additions and changes on the list include:
- $2,500,000 for street and sidewalk projects
- $325,000 to design the Community Path Design from Saltonstall Park to Taylor Street.
- $120,000 for the Library improvements to replace sliding doors
- $877,000 for Public Works equipment and vehicles
- $155,000 for Fire Station improvements
- $247,400 for Police Department equipment
- $1,050,000 in water and sewer repairs
The Town Council’s Public Works Committee will also look at whether to use $2.5 million on repairs to longer roads in town. This was suggested because much of the street and sidewalk funds go to other smaller projects, otherwise all the money in one year could go toward longer roads.
A long standing item on Watertown’s Capital Improvement Plan, $5 million for a parking structure in Watertown Square, may be removed from the list, if it is not one of the recommendations of the ongoing Town Parking Study.
The School Department took a few items off the list, including $61,000 for painting at Hosmer, $17,000 for an air conditioning feasibility study at the middle school, which will be paid for in with the School’s operational budget.
See the entire list as well as background on the items by clicking here.