Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking for Construction of 2 Watertown Schools

Watertown school and town officials put shovels in the ground at the official start of the construction project Cunniff Elementary School. The ceremony also marked the beginning of the Hosmer School project. Standing next to the first of Watertown schools to be torn down and replaced with a state-of-the-art facility, Watertown School and Town officials celebrated the beginning of what will be several years of construction at school sites around town. Officials posed in hardhats, holding shovels during the official groundbreaking of the project at Cunniff Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. The ceremony also marked the start of the project at Hosmer Elementary School, which will take place simultaneously.

First in the State: Council Funds Building Two Net Zero Energy Schools; No Override

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. The Town Council, Watertown School officials, designers and green energy advocates celebrated the completion of what looked like a pipe dream just a few years ago: building two schools that will create enough electricity to cover their energy needs, and pay for it without raising property taxes. Architect Scott Dunlap from Ai3 congratulated the Town for building the first Net Zero school in Massachusetts. The schools will also make other history. “They will be the first Net Zero elementary schools in New England,” Dunlap said.

Town Manager Presenting Budget Monday, Council Voting on School Project Funding Tuesday

The Town Council will consider approving the funds to build the new Hosmer and Cunniff elementary schools Tuesday night. Here is a rendering of what the new Hosmer will look like. The Watertown Town Council will have back-to-back meetings this week, beginning with the presentation of next year’s Town Budget on Monday, and then councilors will hear a presentation about and are expected to vote on the funding for the construction of the new Hosmer and Cunniff elementary schools. Budget Presentation

Town Manager Michael Driscoll will present the Fiscal Year 2021 Town Budget Monday at a special Town Council meeting that will begin at 6 p.m.

The budget had been scheduled to be presented in April, but was delayed due to the uncertainty of some of the Town’s revenue due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget meeting will be conducted online, and the public watch and participate in a number of ways:

Join the virtual meeting online at: https://watertown-ma.zoom.us/j/91777824276Join in audio-only mode on the phone — 877 853 5257 (TollFree) or 888 475 4499 (Toll Free) and enter Webinar ID: 917 7782 4276#Watch the meeting on WCATV (Watertown Cable AccessTelevision) on the air at Comcast Channel 99 or RCN Channel 13, and online at https://wcatv.org/government-channel/

Council Discusses School Projects

The $103.45 million in funding for to construct new schools at Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools will be the main agenda item at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

Online Meeting to be Held on Cunniff School Construction

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. Construction will soon begin at Cunniff Elementary School, and school officials will host a meeting to discuss the construction activities around the Westside school. Town Council President Mark Sideris said he had hoped to have the meeting in person, but could not do so due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The meeting will be held on Zoom, and the public can participate by joining the meeting on Zoom or by phone. Also, they can tune in on Watertown Cable.

Elementary School Projects Preparing for COVID-19 Issues; Will be Highly Energy Efficient

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. Watertown will build two new elementary schools and, despite an estimated $1 million for additional costs of construction during the COVID-19 outbreak, the project came in under budget. The new Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools will have enough solar panels to make them net-zero-energy buildings. Wednesday night, the School Building Committee voted to approve the hiring of Brait Building Corp. to construct the new Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools.

Bids on Elementary School Projects Under Budget, But COVID-19 Creates Additional Costs

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. The bids on the construction projects at two of Watertown’s elementary schools came in millions of dollars below budget, but the requirements for working in the COVID-19 world will mean some added costs. Hosmer and Cunniff schools will start construction in June, and the bids were recently opened, said Town Council President Mark Sideris. The project budget estimated the cost of the two schools at just over $100 million including the cost of adding solar on the school roofs ($5 million), Sideris said. “The good news is low bidder came in at $92,335,000 and all the solar came in at $2.6 million,” Sideris said.

Progress Being Made on School Building Projects, But it May be Slowed by Social Distancing Orders

Watertown School officials continue to work on the school building projects at the three elementary schools and the high school during the Coronavirus outbreak, but they may eventually hit a roadblock due to restrictions imposed during the outbreak. Town Council President Mark Sideris wrote an update to the School Building Committee about the progress of the School Building Projects. Progress could be slowed by the social distancing requirements, particularly limiting the number of people who can gather in one place. “Work on all projects is still continuing even though we are not meeting as a committee,” Sideris wrote in the letter. Work at Hosmer and Cunniff is planned to start in late June, right after the school year ends, but the School Building Committee had to postpone community meetings at both schools where they planned to update the communities on the projects.

Cunniff Elementary Moving to Waltham Site Next Fall, Speeding Up New Building

When Cunniff Elementary School students return to class in September, they will attend classes at a different campus, in a different city. The move will allow the current school to be torn down and replaced by a new building sooner and will save the district money. Cunniff’s temporary home will be the St. Jude’s School, a former parochial school in Waltham. Watertown school officials came to an agreement with the Boston Archdiocese to lease the school during Watertown’s school building project, known as Building for the Future.