Committee unveils long-term facilities plan

Naugatuck’s long-term school facility planning committee is eyeing a plan that would convert Salem Elementary School (pictured) and Hillside Intermediate School into a municipal government complex to replace Town Hall. –FILE PHOTO

Naugatuck’s long-term school facility planning committee is eyeing a plan that would convert Salem Elementary School (pictured) and Hillside Intermediate School into a municipal government complex to replace Town Hall. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — A committee exploring long-term school facilities needs unveiled a plan Monday that could drastically change the face of the community.

The plan highlights include:

  • Building an approximately $86 million school for grades 5-to-8, with separate environments for grades 5-6 and grades 7-8 at the current Cross Street Intermediate School site;
  • Renovating City Hill Middle School to new and converting it into an elementary school;
  • Tearing down the current Town Hall to make way for private development;
  • Converting Hillside Intermediate School and Salem Elementary School into a municipal government complex to replace Town Hall.

The ambitious proposal was put forth by the long-term school facility planning committee, which considered what it believed to be the best use for schools and municipal government buildings.

The proposal has three phases, beginning with the $81 million Naugatuck High School renovation project, which is already under construction and should be completed by the fall of 2015. Phase two is the middle school project, which would begin in the summer of 2017 and end in the fall of 2020.

Phase three would begin immediately following phase two, and include renovating and expanding current elementary schools at a cost of roughly $42.8 million. It would be completed in 2022.

“We’re spending a lot of money on the current facilities and unless you have a long-term plan, you are never going to advance,” Committee Chairman Pete Hess said. “This commission has tried to come up with a plan that will not only help the school system, not only take care of our outdated structures, but also will provide a better blueprint for the entire downtown and for that matter the surrounding areas of downtown.”

Committee member Charley Marenghi said the community cannot just think of the plan as a school project, but rather one that will benefit the entire community.

The proposal has a built-in timeframe for referendums on each of the next two phases. Phase one, the high school renovation project, was approved 2-to-1 by voters. The borough’s share of the cost was minimal — the state kicked in about 75 percent of the overall cost — and Naugatuck hopes to have similar reimbursement for future school projects.

For now, the committee needs to sell its proposal to borough officials. It will present the plan to the Board of Education, Board of Mayor and Burgesses and Board of Finance at 6 p.m., Jan. 21, at City Hill Middle School.

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