Bridge Street School Community Center Update

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In the last few months there has been continuing discussion surrounding the abatement of environmental hazards at BSCC and how that is being funded. The abatement of Bridge Street School is a necessity and a town obligation in order to move forward with renovation into a community center. The current budget doesn’t include an allocation for abatement so it will either be funded through the bond or go to a town meeting. In the coming month the Department of Public Works (DPW) will receive contractor bids for abatement, which will provide the true abatement costs.

The DPW and Permanent Building Committee (PBC) had an additional environmental study performed by ATC to confirm the findings of past studies. The report indicated a higher presence of mold than was previously present (due to building neglect), so the PBC ordered a structural report. The structural report indicated that the mold didn’t degrade the structural stability of the building. Further, the report stated, “ the structural systems are in very good condition ….. and are suitable for renovation and re-occupancy.”

The Parks and Recreation BSCC Subcommittee has conducted numerous site visits at neighboring community centers to gain a better insight of what BSCC should and should not have. The visits were fruitful and the group created a master list of room specifications to share with the architect during the design phase of the project. The goal of this effort is to efficiently communicate the desired functionality of each room, allowing the architect to develop well defined drawings to facilitate a successful construction project. The group also assisted with the formation of a non-profit group to help raise awareness and funds for the project.

At the May town meeting voters turned out and approved the application for a $500,000 grant through the Main Street Investment Fund by the Department of Housing. This grant would be used for site work and exterior updates at BSCC (which were already included in the original construction estimate). Any funds awarded through this grant, with a maximum of $500,000, will be used to offset construction costs and reduce the bond impact to tax payers.

The BSCC committee is sensitive to the struggles the library has faced with environmental remediation and understands residents’ concerns. While none of us have a crystal ball, all town departments and committees are approaching this project with higher scrutiny and more forethought to avoid similar pitfalls. Through positive collaboration all involved parties are making choices to successfully complete this project within budget while delivering an important new resource for residents.

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