High School Appeals Cost Town Nearly $1.5 Million, Says Town Manager

WILMINGTON, MA – At last night’s Wilmington Board of Selectmen Meeting, Town Manager Jeff Hull announced that the various citizen appeals relative to the construction of the new Wilmington High School escalated the project’s costs by nearly $1.5 million.

“The opening of the new high school is a testament to the knowledge, ability and commitment of the public officials and project team to execute the directive of an overwhelming majority of Wilmington voters to provide students with a 21st century learning facility,” began Hull.

“It is truly unfortunate that despite the strong mandate for construction of the new high school, a few individuals were able to delay this project by 7 months,” he stressed.

“To the graduating Class of 2015, it represents a lost opportunity to experience the benefits of completing their entire final year of high school in an environment that provides flexible learning spaces; fully incorporates technology into the fabric of the facility; provides a gymnasium with an elevated track; and a state-of-the-art auditorium,” Hull continued.

“This unnecessary project delay has led to an increase of nearly $1.5 million in project costs,” revealed Hull.  “While the overall project cost remains within budget, the additional costs would not have been incurred if the project started according to the original project schedule.”

During the “public comments” section of the meeting, George Lingenfelter, an appellant on the first two appeals, spoke out and defended his actions.

“The first appeal, the Department of Environmental Protection upheld it.  The town was wrong.  There were a lot of subsurface infiltration structures that were changed during that process.  It’s not just a matter of 7 disgruntled people.  That was an environmentally-based appeal as far as I’m concerned.  That’s why I was involved.  If the town had – during the time of the first and second appeals – actually tried to work with the [appellants], a lot of that stuff wouldn’t have happened.”

Lingenfelter argued that the town should have cleaned up the contaminated soil on the high school site.  “That would have gone a long way to improving the value of the property and helping the environment, instead of just throwing the money away, thumping the town’s chest, and try to beat up on people.  And you still keep doing it.”

“A lot of structural engineering changes that were beneficial came about through those appeals.  It wasn’t a matter of people just being disgruntled,” argued Lingenfelter.  “Was I opposed to the high school as proposed?  Yes, I think we could have done a lot better with something different, but that’s not what [the appeals] were about.”

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