Two public meetings scheduled for Taconic High School review


PITTSFIELD -- City residents this summer have two chances to comment on the future look of Taconic High School.

On Monday, The Pittsfield School Building Needs Commission announced June 16 and July 21 as the dates for public input sessions to discuss the issues and concerns surrounding Taconic and review of four building scenarios for the Valentine Road campus.

The meetings will be held in the Taconic cafeteria, at 6:30 p.m.

Commission co-chair Kathleen A. Amuso urged commission members to heavily promote the gatherings throughout the city.

"We should all invite at least five people who are invested [in the project,]" Amuso said. "It's important we all get people there."

The June 16 session begins with a tour of the 45-year-old Taconic High School at 6 p.m., followed by an overview of the planning process to date, with attendees breaking up into smaller groups to outline what they want to see in a renovated or new Taconic.

Project manager Paul Kneedler of Skanska, USA, the project consultant, noted the July 21 is when the public can comment specifically on the four options for Taconic. On July 28, the commission will vote to submit one of the options to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for review, with final SBA approval anticipated in January. The City Council is expected to vote on the scope of the project and funding agreement in February 2015.

Representatives of DRA of Waltham reviewed the four options, initially unveiled by the architect firm at the commission's May meeting.

The first proposal calls for basic repairs and upgrades, ranging in cost between $25-45 million, but they don't address the educational improvements needed at Taconic, according to DRA officials.

The renovation and expansion concept calls for one- and two-story additions between the existing school and Valentine Road -- with an estimated cost between $60-$70 million.

The third scenario, with an expected price tag of $80-$90 million, involves erecting a three-story academic/vocational building across from Taconic's main entrance. Except for the gymnasium and auditorium, the rest of the existing school would be demolished and what's left would be renovated and linked to the new building.

The fourth option -- and most expensive to date at $85-$95 million, shows a completely new school, including the three-story academic/vocational building, which would benefit Taconic's athletic programs.

On Friday, Skanska will forward the four proposals and the rest of the preliminary design program to the SBA. Designing options is the latest step in the ongoing feasibility study to determine the best way to upgrade or build a new Taconic.

"These are the preferred family of designs," said Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless, who also co-chairs the commission.

The commission approved the preliminary design program on Monday that also includes the project's educational plan listing the 12 vocational & technology programs at Taconic. The Pittsfield School Committee finalized the plan last week.

To reach Dick Lindsay:,
or (413) 496-6233.


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