Report suggests big changes in borough

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Salem Elementary School could become a Town Hall Annex in Naugatuck if a long-term school facility planning report goes into effect. –FILE PHOTO
Salem Elementary School could become a Town Hall Annex in Naugatuck if a long-term school facility planning report goes into effect. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — An ambitious plan for the borough calls for a new $86 million middle school; spending $90 million to renovate and expand elementary schools and the relocation of Town Hall.

Those are among the suggestions in a report by the long-term school facility planning committee. It lists recommendations for drastic changes to the public school system and some municipal government offices over the next 12 years.

The suggested changes would take place in three phases, the first of which has already begun with the ongoing renovations to Naugatuck High School. The second two phases include transitions that would change the look and feel of the borough, especially its school system, for generations.

The committee that formulated the plan was tasked with finding the best way to deal with outdated school buildings that administrators and town officials say are no longer suitable for modern educational needs.

Many of the borough’s school buildings need significant, costly upgrades. Most current schools do not have adequate space or necessary electrical wiring to make significant technological upgrades that administrators believe the school system will need in the coming years, according to committee members.

The school system, which serves 4,353 students, has a shrinking enrollment, and the new plan calls for closing some school buildings.

Town Hall may also be closed as part of the plan, and it could be torn down. Aside from being considered an eyesore by many residents, the building is not energy efficient, is in constant need of costly repairs and has inadequate town meeting space, among other issues.

Officials believe Town Hall could be torn down and the land can be part of a private development with neighboring town land known as Parcel C on the corner of Maple and Water streets.

The committee will share the report with borough officials during a meeting tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at City Hill Middle School.

Below is a breakdown of what each phase entails. The borough would seek state and federal grant reimbursement for each of the projects, and that funding is not included in these figures.

Phase One: Naugatuck High School renovation

This project is ongoing and is set to be completed by the fall of 2015. The new school is expected to have upgraded educational, technological, safety, athletic and artistic facilities that will be used by all public high school students.

The project also includes offices for administrative staff, who can move out of the Tuttle Building on Church Street. This will have a ripple effect in the borough: the Naugatuck Historical Society headquarters will move to Tuttle, and the borough will try to sell the train station on Water Street, where the historical society is currently headquartered.

Phase Two: Construction of a townwide middle school for all borough students

The borough would look to build a new facility for grades 5 to 8 with separate environments for grades 5 and 6, and 7 and 8. This would go to referendum in November 2015. If approved, construction would start in the summer of 2017, and it would be completed by the fall of 2020.

The project is expected to cost $86 million and house an estimated 1,335 students. The borough would look to purchase 6 acres from the Hershey Corp. at the former Peter Paul factory site to have more room on the school campus.

Naugatuck would also consider building a new outdoor athletic facility (potentially a synthetic surface) and an auditorium for community use. Hillside Intermediate School, no longer being used as a school building, would be transformed into a new Town Hall.

Phase Three: Renovations/expansions to elementary schools

This phase includes renovating City Hill Middle School into a new K-4 school, at a cost of $42.8 million. Voters would be asked to approve this at a November 2018 referendum. Construction would start in the summer of 2020 and finish in the fall of 2022.

This would serve the current populations of Salem Elementary School, which could become a Town Hall annex, and Andrew Avenue Elementary School, which could become a pre-kindergarten facility. It could include the possible redistricting of some east side neighborhoods closest to City Hill and a portion of Western School students closest to City Hill.

The third phase also calls for Hop Brook Elementary School to be renovated as new, at a cost of $16.2 million. Voters would be given a choice to approve or reject this project in November 2020. Construction would start in the summer of 2022 and would finish in the fall of 2024.

It would serve the current populations of Hop Brook and Western schools, and would possibly include redistricting of some west side neighborhoods closest to Hop Brook. If approved, Western School would become an alternative school for grades 7-12 students who struggle in traditional classroom environments.

As part of this plan, Maple Hill Elementary School would be renovated as new, at a cost of $21 million, and would have the same time frame as the Hop Brook renovation project.

The Andrew Avenue renovations required to make the school a pre-kindergarten facility would cost $10 million. The project would go to referendum in November 2022 and construction would begin the summer of 2024, with an end date of the fall of 2026.

This would replace the current population of the Central Avenue pre-k facility. The borough would try to sell buildings that it would no longer use if these plans are approved.