New school project goes out to bid

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An artist's rendering of the new Prospect Elementary School. –CONTRIBUTED
An artist’s rendering of the new Prospect Elementary School. –CONTRIBUTED

REGION 16 — School officials had hoped to seek bids for the new elementary school and renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School together. However, that will not be the case.

The School Building Committee issued a request for proposals Tuesday seeking a contractor to build the new Prospect Elementary School.  

“We’re very excited now that the work is moving forward,” Superintendent of Schools Tim James said.

The new school, which will be built at 75 New Haven Road in Prospect, is the largest part of a three-part building project. The project includes renovations and additions to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls and a new district office. In December 2011, voters in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved bonding $47.5 million for the project.

James said the bids are scheduled to be open Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. in Prospect Town Hall. James said under the current schedule he’s hopeful ground can be broken on the new school Nov. 1.

Despite breaking ground late in the year, James said, a significant amount of work can be done, such as clearing trees and erecting steel, during the winter.

“If it’s a good winter they’ll be able to get quite a bit done,” he said.

The new school is still on pace to be completed in February or March of 2015, James said. The school is expected to open in the fall of 2015. Once it opens Community and Algonquin schools in Prospect will be closed.

The original plan called for sending the new school and renovations to Laurel Ledge out to bid together in order to secure a contractor do both jobs and potentially save money on the projects. However, both projects faced delays this year.

The delay for the new school, which was supposed to break ground in the spring, was due to layers of state bureaucracy as the district awaited approvals on the project. The district recently received the final necessary approval from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the septic system design.

The delay on the Laurel Ledge project stems from the local review process.

Due to the case load at the state Bureau of School Facilities, state officials requested a local review of the designs for the new school and work at Laurel Ledge be done.  

The towns of Prospect and Beacon Falls each hired someone earlier this year to do the reviews. State law requires the towns hire someone for the reviews, but they are paid from funds for the school project.

The local review of the Laurel Ledge project has not been completed yet. The holdup is over what exactly needs to be reviewed on the Laurel Ledge designs.

Architects from Fletcher Thompson, who are working with the district, and school officials argue the review is only applicable to the scope of the project. The project entails building corridors to connect the buildings at the campus-style school, renovating two bathrooms and construction of a new science room.

Bruce Spiewak, the consultant hired by Beacon Falls to do the review, and the town building department contend the scope of the project impacts other portions of the school and must be considered within the review.

The two sides were at an impasse for months over the summer.

Last week, James said the architects with Fletcher Thompson have sent back revised drawings for the Laurel Ledge project and responded to questions posed by the building department and Spiewak. There hasn’t been much movement as far as the review is concerned, he said last week.