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North Adams Delays School Project Presentation
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:48PM / Tuesday, March 13, 2012
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has delayed its presentation for a new school project until June while it does some more number crunching.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said on Tuesday that he and Superintendent James Montepare asked last week that the city's school project presentation be posptoned. They would have appeared before the MSBA's Facilities Assessment Subcommittee on Wednesday.

"I started getting a little concerned that our numbers aren't as close as they can be," said the mayor. "We can't afford any surprises."

The School Building Committee voted Feb. 29 in order to place its recommendation to renovate Conte Middle School as a new K-7 school in front of the Massachusetts School Building Authority this month.

But in conversations with project manager Carl Weber of SBS Building Solutions early last week, Alcombright said some of the figures for nonreimbursable expenses — such as for demolition — for Conte and the other options raised questions.

The mayor said that prompted him to step back and have the numbers double-checked to get a more detailed and accurate estimate.

"We're just making sure. We'll keep working on the numbers and convene the School Building Committee again," he said. "Based on what we found out, we decided to step back and make sure, as sure as we possibly can, that we're moving in the right direction."

Alcombright said the School Building Authority has been accommodating in allowing the city to hold off until the June meeting. That delay will affect the construction timeline but not the project's standing since its deadline had been extended to October. Double-checking the costs will also allow the city to better present its arguments for why Conte should renovated, he said.

The School Building Committee selected Conte after the SBA rejected its attempt to present two projects as a single solution for the closure of the middle school. Alcombright said the project will provide the best educational solution as well as revive an important downtown structure.

The mayor is hoping to fund the project without having to resort to a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion, so cost estimates need to be tight.

"I don't want to get to July to ask the City Council to bond a $30 million project and found out we need more," said the mayor.
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