State Approves New Bancroft School Construction Plans
Approval by the Massachusetts School Building Authority will allow the town to move forward with the Bancroft School construction.
Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski told the Board of Selectmen recently that the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the state agency putting up half the bill for the Bancroft School construction, has given the "go ahead" on a new plan to begin construction on the school despite a pending lawsuit.
With the lawsuit tying up an access road needed for construction, the project organizers have decided to build a temporary access road in a different location to allow for construction.
With the state covering roughly half the costs of school construction, they needed to approve the plan before the town could start construction on the school under the altered plan.
"We are moving straight ahead," said Stapczynski.
The town plans to begin construction on the school by June using the new plans for access to the construction site.
Approved at Special Town Meeting 2010, the $44 million Bancroft School project was scheduled to be under construction by now. However, the project was delayed due to abutters' lawsuits objecting to the project's permanent access road that they claimed was encroaching on protected wetland boundaries. While the Superior Court and Department of Environmental Protection quickly ruled in favor of the town, further appeals have been filed and are expected to delay the project more.
However, School Committee chairman Annie Gilbert had said that if they build the school in different phases, they can start earlier despite the pending lawsuits and related appeals. Project architects say they can build a temporary access road from West Knoll Road or Bancroft Road that would take the place of the road currently being scrutinized. Committee members are confident that they will come out victoriously in the courts and will be able to build the road at a later point during construction.
Gilbert said that the project has built in contingency funds that will hopefully cover the costs associated with changing the phases of the project. Gilbert said that if the town waited until the lawsuits were concluded, project costs would be much higher due to the rapidly changing economic climate in construction.