February 8, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
School Building Committee vice-chairman Ray Estes presented a progress report on the proposal to renovate or build a new reception school to the school committee on Monday evening, including preferred design renderings.
The proposal is moving through the Massachusetts School Building Authority process, with the expectation that the MSBA will fund a significant portion of the project.
The proposal calls for a three-story building that will include a pre-K offering and strong arts and music programs that will also be the new location for the Kids in Action before and after school program.
“This site is near water,” Estes said. “The city has a nautical history, and we want to incorporate that into the design as much as possible.”
The committee took into consideration the desires and recommendations heard during the visioning sessions which also included discussions on the curriculum and related space requirements.
There will be plenty of play space for recreation and community use, three music rooms, a gymnasium with a two-sided stage, possible outdoor classroom space, a rain garden, indoor and outdoor community, and a green space, potential solar panels on the roof, a rain garden, a METCO office and 131 parking spaces.
“Some of the extra space won’t be partially refundable. It’s a tough choice,” Estes said. “We are still in negotiations with the MSBA on what it will reimburse and what it will not reimburse.”
Available data indicates that by 2070 half of the site will potentially be underwater, so the building will be raised above floodplain elevation so that is not an issue, according to Estes. .
“Over the past six months we have been working on the feasibility phase, doing a lot of site exploration, flagging wetlands and providing reports to the MSBA in an effort to substantiate our belief that this is ‘a viable site to develop for a new elementary school, and we’re really excited,” Estes said. “I believe we’ve passed the threshold of convincing the MSBA. Our meeting last week went well, and we are looking forward, I think, to board approval in early March of our preferred option.”
It is an “exquisite natural site that our team of architects are delighted to redevelop”, he said.
Thursday community meeting
A remote meeting on the host school proposal will take place this Thursday, February 10 at 7 p.m., organized by the school construction committee and in the presence of the architects of the project, the Foster PTO and the Foster community. wider, as well as other interested citizens.
“This meeting will provide an overview of some of the design proposals we’ve been working on over the past six months, to share our progress and other information, and to answer questions,” Estes said. Check the city’s website for more details.
A terms of reference will be drafted for the annual municipal meeting this spring requesting interim funding, subject to MSBA project approval “so that we can begin fine design development work,” Estes explained.
A special town meeting will be held next fall to seek voter approval for full construction funding. This figure will be announced at a later date.
If all goes according to plan, construction could begin in the spring of 2023, followed by the opening of the new building in 2024.