While the 2019 calendar has not yet reached Thanksgiving, the start of construction at Watertown’s three elementary schools is just around the corner.
Scott Dunlap, project architect with Ai3 Architects, provided a basic timeline for the move toward construction at Hosmer Elementary School, the first of three schools to begin the reconstruction process.
The Design Development process will be completed later this month. In the spring the project will be bid, and construction will begin over the summer break, Dunlap told the School Building Committee on Nov. 6.
A cost estimate for the entire project will be presented at the next School Building Committee meeting on Nov. 20.
“We have a March 12 date for the release of documents for potential bidders,” Dunlap said. “Subcontractors for some of trades will be decided on April 8. The final general contractor bids will be delivered at the end of April, with the goal of a contract being awarded in May to the general contractor, and mobilizing in June on the project.”
Dunlap noted that Hosmer and Cunniff schools will be bid together as one project, because they are both going to be brand new schools. Lowell School, which will be significantly renovated and have some additions, will be bid on its own and later than the other two.
School Building Committee member Kelly Kurlbaum said she has heard questions from parents about how some programs will work during the construction.
“I have heard a lot of questions from parents about what this will look like for the schools, and what will happen with the summer program that normally takes place at Hosmer in the summer?” Kurlbaum said. “How is it going to work? What is the impact going to be on the neighborhood?”
The architect and the Owners Project Manager from Hill International will come up with a moving plan for the schools to prepare for the construction, said Vivian Varbedian, senior project manager from Hill International.
“We are in process of putting together a move plan and a move management plan,” Varbedian said. “We are meeting with each individual principal, and with the superintendent and facilities manager to discuss how we will make the pieces fit together.”
School Committee member Lindsay Mosca said she is worried that parents may not have time to adjust their plans to the new situation at schools during the project.
“Once we are past the longer winter break, and into January, for teachers parents that feels to me like it’s too late to hear about changes to their situation at the end of school year and the summer,” Mosca said.
Dunlap said the preschool and preK program at Hosmer will have to be moved out of its space so that demolition of the building can take place, Dunlap said. It will take place right after school ends.
Ann Marie Cloonan, who lives across the street from Hosmer, asked when neighbors will find out about how their lives will be impacted by the project.
“The discussion has been more about the school movement and not the community. When school ends in June, in the summer that is my front yard,” Cloonan said. “When are we talking about the detailed plans for what will happen to our neighborhood?”
Town Council President Mark Sideris, who is chair of the School Building Committee said there are plans to hold meetings just for the neighbors to discuss the impact of the projects on their lives. He added the the Communications Subcommittee will begin to meet again to discuss how to get word out.
He warned, however, that there will be impacts during the construction.
“I just wanted to remind people, and I have said this in the past, this is going to be painful,” Sideris said. “We want to give as much information as we can. We will do the best we can, but this is going to be challenge for a significant amount of time”.