The Hunnewell Elementary School project has received Zoning Board of Appeals approval from the Town of Wellesley, bringing the teardown and rebuild project another step closer to an anticipated groundbreaking in summer 2022.
Before that happens there are several details to be addressed by Compass Construction, the project management company tasked with building the new 75,000 square-foot, two-story, 19-classroom building. Senior Project Manager Jeff D’Amico reported to the Wellesley Permanent Building Committee that there are a couple of “hardship” areas that are making it difficult to fully comply with ADA ramp construction.
D’Amico identified one of the spots as the intersection of Hampden and Brook Streets, where there’s an electrical manhole in the way and “we need to lower the grade to make it work. A location like that doesn’t simply end up being a couple of grand. It can quickly spiral into the tens of thousands by the time you redo a curb ramp, mess around with the public utilities…so we’re going to look for clarification. Is this something the project has to take on,” he said.
In addition, the skyrocketing cost of building materials such as steel, aluminum, lumber, and PVC during the COVID-19 pandemic has added an expected $2.4 million increase to the project.
The total project budget at this time is $54,835,467.
“The number that was floated out at Town Meeting in December 2019 was $52,853,000,” D’Amico said, “So it’s about $2 million higher than we were about 2 years ago.”
During Special Town Meeting on Oct. 25 – 26, there will be a funding vote. From there, a townwide debt exclusion vote will take place on Dec. 7.
Hardy School update
The Compass team currently is responding to Massachusetts School Building Authority questions on the project scope and budget of building a new elementary school at the Hardy site.
Traffic issues loom large as Permanent Building Committee members all but tore their hair out when discussing how to increase busing and walking at a school site where it is estimated that 45% of the school population will be driven by their families.
The goal is to devise a plan that will eliminate queueing on Weston Road. When the idea was floated of implementing a circular drive that would go around the entire school, PBC member Suzy Littlefield observed, “That’s a lot of asphalt for 20 minutes a day.”
Vice chair Michael Tauer asked whether the Town’s priorities are “…having green space or is it letting people drive their cars to schools?”
A traffic study is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, at which time the issue will be revisited.
Construction on Hardy is anticipated to begin in 2023.