WILMINGTON, MA — The Wildwood School Building Committee held its March meeting on Wednesday, March 15, 2023 at 6pm via ZOOM.
Below are FIVE takeaways from the 45-minute meeting:
The following members were present: Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand (chair), Assistant Superintendent Paul Ruggiero, Town Manager Jeff Hull, Assistant Town Manager Susan Inman, Public Buildings Superintendent George Hooper, Wildwood Principal Kate Bissell, Selectman Greg Bendel, School Committee Vice Chair David Ragsdale, School Committee member Melissa Plowman (alternate), Permanent Building Committee member Paul Melaragni, and Permanent Building Committee member Diane Allan.
#1) After the meeting was called to order and the February minutes were approved, the Committee decided to pass over a discussion of adding new members to the Committee.
The Committee had previously put out a call for volunteers, asking elementary staff; elementary parent/guardian/caregivers; and community representative with experience in construction, engineering, or architecture to submit a brief letter of interest by March 3.
“We have gathered some interest and feedback from residents who wish to serve [on our Committee], announced Chair Glenn Brand. “At this juncture, I don’t think we’re ready to advance this for discussion now… We’ll return to it at a future meeting.”
#2) Julie LeDuc, the Director of OPM Services, reported that members of the Designer Selection Subcommittee — including School Superintendent Dr. Brand, Town Manager Jeff Hull, and School Committee Vice Chair David Ragsdale — met with a 13-member panel from the Massachusetts School Building Authority on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 to review the three qualified design firms that submitted a proposal for the Wildwood project.
Two firms — Dore & Whittier and Studio G — were unanimously voted to move forward in the process. A third firm — CBT — did not receive sufficient support to make the short list.
Dore & Whittier has a history with the Town of Wilmington. It was served as the designer for the Wilmington High School project. It also developed the overall feasibility study for the school system and the specific feasibility study for the Wildwood Early Childhood Center. It is currently working with the town to develop the interim Wildwood solution, including the relocation of some Wildwood students to the Middle School, necessitating the construction of additional restrooms at the Middle School.
Dore & Whittier (8:35am) and Studio G (9:20am) will be interviewed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. The interviews will consist of 30-minute presentations, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Interviews will be done remotely, and are open to the public. The Designer Selection Subcommittee submitted four questions both firms will answer as part of its presentation. Deliberations will take place after the finial interview, and are expected to wrap by 11am.
“At the end of that meeting, we’ll have a decision, and, hopefully, we’ll be able to execute a designer contract,” explained LeDuc.
Brand added that the MSBA was not concerned that Wilmington received only three proposals in response to its RFP for design services. Lower number of submissions are being seen for these types of projects across the state, according to Brand.
#3) Chair Glenn Brand then updated the Committee on the Wildwood Interim Project. Brand noted that himself, Town Manager Hull, Assistant Superintendent Ruggiero, and Public Buildings Superintendent Hooper are meeting regularly with Dore & Whittier regarding the project.
Brand, Wildwood Principal Kate Bissell, and Wildwood staff are meeting regularly to plan next school year’s transition for families and staff. Brand explained that 7 Wildwood classrooms (105-120 students) will be located in the Middle School — 4 kindergarten, 2 STRIDES, and 1 pre-kindergarten — and 5 classrooms (85-105 students) will be located in the West Intermediate School — 3 kindergarten, 1 STRIDES, and 1 pre-kindergarten.
Dore & Whittier has changed the proposed location of the new restrooms for Wildwood students in the Middle School. Room 155, a room adjacent to the library, has now been determined as the best option, as it already has running water and will be easily accessible off the main hallway that most Wildwood students will be using. Room 155 will be divided in half — creating 2 separate restrooms. The boys restroom and girls restroom will each have 3 stalls.
Construction documents for the restroom project will be finalized by end of March. The project will go out to bid in April and, if all goes well, awarded by the middle of May.
“These are tight timelines,” acknowledged Brand. “Construction will begin as quickly after the end of school as we can. No construction will begin prior to school being out.”
“We’re on course to establish some really solid plans,” continued Brand. “We may, at the end, be at the mercy of the supply chains and construction timelines. We know it’s coming. We’ll be in a good place.”
Construction will be divided into three phases, lasting approximately 10 weeks in total.
Brand noted the project is benefited by the fact that the Wildwood students start school a week after Grades 1-12. He stressed that the restroom location won’t interfere with Middle School operations at all. Worst case, if there was a short construction delay, Brand suggested that a temporary solution could be put in place where Wildwood students could use existing Middle School restrooms.
#4) Chair Brand reported that Town Manager Jeff Hull, with the support of the Select Board, re-allocated $100,000 in (American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to purchase an outdoor play space for Wildwood students outside the Middle School. The structure has already been ordered. It is expected to arrive towards the end of this school year, and will be installed by the Department of Public Works before the beginning of August.
Town Manager Hull noted that the $1.1 million price tag for the Wildwood Interim Project included $100,000 for the playground. He added the price tag could be adjusted even further after the bids for the restroom project comes in.
In response to a question from School Committee member Melissa Plowman, Brand confirmed that the Wildwood entrance to the Middle School will have the same security measures in place as the Middle School’s main entrance.
#5) The Building Committee struggled to select a date to meet in April. The Committee was scheduled to meet during School Vacation Week on Wednesday, April 19, but several members would be out of town. Members of the Committee had conflicts on the other Wednesday nights in April due to meetings of the Senior Center Building Committee, Town Hall/School Administration Building Committee, and School Committee.
Instead of meeting in April, the Committee agreed to forego its April 19 meeting and instead next meet on Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 6pm. The May meeting will likely take place in-person to allow the committee to meet the project designers. In lieu of an April meeting, the Committee will receive a memo announcing the selection and hiring of the project design firm.
Watch the full meeting HERE.
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