Photo: The current high school building.
The Belmont High School renovation project passed its eligibility stage with flying colors on Nov. 9 and will begin the phase that brings the multimillion dollar proposal closer to a bricks and mortar reality.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s board of directors “invited” Belmont and seven other school districts to collaborate with the authority in conducting feasibility studies for a “potential” school construction projects, according to State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who is also the chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
“These feasibility studies will carefully examine potential solutions to the issues identified at the school facilities and will help us develop the most cost effective plan to address those issues,” said Goldberg.
For Belmont, the state’s acceptance of the preliminary work is a “big deal,” according to the chair of the Belmont High School Building Committee.
“It’s an exciting time for Belmont,” said William Lovallo, who leads the 16 member group which will oversee the building’s construction with the MSBA. “This is the precursor … of our design process,” he said.
During the just completed eligibility stage, “the state looked to the town and school district to understand the framework by which we will move into the feasibility study,” said Lovallo. With the state’s OK this week, Belmont can now move to hire in the new year an owner’s project manager who will work with the committee to write the Request For Proposal (RFP) for hiring a design team.
According to Lovallo, after the team is in place, the feasibility study will be underway looking at three building “scenarios”– a school that includes 7th-12th grades, an 8th-12th building, and a traditional 9th-12th high school – in multiple configurations.
“The MSBA requires us to look at each scenario three ways; ‘as is,’ a renovation project and a new structure” so “there could potentially be nine designs in the study in addition to any other variation,” said Lovallo.
“Then you take all those studies and boil it down through the public process to a preferred option,” he said. Only when the MSBA and the town approves a single building configuration will schematic designs be produced and the building will begin to take shape, said Lovallo.
“We’ll be working even harder in this next phase,” he said, estimating that the feasibility study will be completed early in 2018.