$11M capital improvement plan for Monument Mountain Regional High School unveiled


GREAT BARRINGTON >> The Berkshire Hills Regional School District has unveiled an $11 million, five-year plan for capital improvements to Monument Mountain Regional High School.

This preliminary plan was drafted in the wake of last year's defeat of a $52.1 million renovation project. It addresses the most crucial needs to the aging facility, ranging from asbestos abatement to window replacement to science lab upgrades.

The new plan "fixes what needs to be fixed," said Steven Soule, director of operations for the district. "It doesn't touch the whole building. In fact, I'd say it barely touches 50 percent of the building."

Last November, the proposed renovation project passed in Stockbridge and West Stockbridge but was defeated by voters in Great Barrington who were concerned with the cost and impact on their tax bills. The state School Building Authority would have paid about $23 million of the $52.1 million project.

The district's residents will get no state relief in this case, however. Taxpayers will bear all of the estimated $11 million cost, likely through a series of 20- or 25-year bonds.

"We can't not fix these items," said School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon.

And he noted that, by the time the district gets to the end of this five-year plan, there will likely be another cycle of repairs the district will have to address.

Several School Committee members said they believe these improvements will be accepted as necessary by district voters, particularly by those who opposed the previous project.

"I was at a number of forums [prior to the school renovation vote]," said committee member William Fields. "And I never heard, 'Don't do anything.' I never heard 'We don't need to do any work, here.' Most people understand the issue.

"But," he said, "We must understand, these are all just Band-Aids. That's all they are."

A significant portion of the costs, almost $2.4 million, cover asbestos removal, spread out over several years. Soule acknowledged that figure is a guess; the true costs won't be known until crews begin knocking down walls, he said.

Richard Bradway, chairman of the district's building and grounds subcommittee, said the plan for Year Five has an overall price tag of $6.4 million. That, he said, is in part because the committee is hoping "we'll have a better idea of what our finances will look like, and whether a major renovation plan will be coming down the road three to five years [after that fiscal year]."

One project slated for Year Five is the replacement of the high school roof, which has a price tag of $4.3 million.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.

Highlights of five-year plan:

Estimated costs for some items in the Monument Mountain Middle and High School repair project. The price tag does not include the cost of upgrading the high school greenhouse, as well as potential added costs of ADA compliance.

• 2017: Asbestos abatement, $430,000; rebuild second boiler (the district is rebuilding another boiler this year), $45,000,; B-wing classroom fixtures upgrade, $80,000; B-wing ceiling replacement, $35,000; lab upgrades, $18,000.

• 2018: Window and screen replacement, $508,000; asbestos abatement, $440,000; electrical generator replacement, $300,000; auditorium seat replacement, $174,000; HVAC improvements, $125,000: heat pump replacement, $18,540.

• 2019: Asbestos abatement, $440,000; gymnasium floor replacement, $178,000; bathroom renovations, $90,000; lab upgrades, $84,000; dust collection upgrade, wood shop, $10,000.

• 2020: Asbestos abatement, $467,000; additional bathroom upgrades, $92,000; additional light fixture upgrades, $87,400; additional lab upgrades, $87,000; pickup truck replacement, $39,000.

•2021: Roof replacement, $4,349,000; Fire suppression upgrade and replacement, $574,000; fire alarm system upgrade, $295,000.


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