City to get less than ex­pected for Bas­sick work

Con­struc­tion OK’d, with lower state re­im­burse­ment

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - News - By Linda Con­ner Lam­beck

BRIDGE­PORT — The state of­fice of School Con­struc­tion Grants au­tho­rized the city to pro­ceed with a brand new Bas­sick High School — but not at the 78.9 per­cent re­im­burse­ment rate the school board was told would be chipped in.

The re­im­burse­ment rate on a brand new Bas­sick would ac­tu­ally be about 69 per­cent, said Kosta Dia­man­tis, di­rec­tor of the of­fice. That short­fall would re­quire the city to bond for the rest.

The dif­fer­ence could mean the city must bond $ 36 mil­lion rather than $ 24 mil­lion on the pro­jected

$ 115 mil­lion pro­ject.

Even so, Dia­man­tis said the city stands to break even or do bet­ter on the pro­ject price tag in the long run be­cause there would be less costly en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup and main­te­nance mov­ing for­ward.

“There would be more things re­im­bursable in a brand new school than in a ren­o­va­tion,” Dia­man­tis said. “The dif­fer­ence in main­tain­ing a new school ver­sus a school that is old would more than make up that 10 per­cent.”

Dia­man­tis said he was sold on a new ver­sus ren­o­vated, or a blend of old and new, af­ter meet­ing with pro­ject ar­chi­tects and city build­ing of­fi­cials.

The state of­fi­cial said he also plans to visit the school Mon­day to set his mind at ease about the his­toric na­ture of the 1929 por­tion of Bas­sick.

Board mem­ber Maria Pereira has said she has no prob­lem re­plac­ing a 1968 ad­di­tion built in front of the 1929 wing, but wants the older por­tion pre­served. It was de­signed by ar­chi­tect Ernest G. Southey as a ju­nior high school with a Ge­or­gian col­umn fa­cade and or­nate au­di­to­rium.

Bas­sick is not on any na­tional reg­is­ter, but the Bas­sick fam­ily and the ar­chi­tect both have his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, Pereira said. Set back from Fair­field and Clin­ton av­enues, that sig­nif­i­cance is ob­scured by the ad­di­tion.

Pereira has started an on­line pe­ti­tion that ap­pears to have got­ten nearly 200 sig­na­tures as of Thurs­day. She also con­tacted the state af­ter Larry Schilling, a city pro­gram man­ager for the con­struc­tion pro­ject, told the board re­peat­edly last week that the state would pay the 79 per­cent re­im­burse­ment rate for a brand new build­ing.

“They said they would sup­port new con­struc­tion with 78.93 per­cent,” Schilling said of the state when asked dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to the school board last week. “Hy­brid would also get the 78 per­cent.”

Schilling sub­se­quently said it was a mis­un­der­stand­ing on his part and other at­ten­dees at the meet­ing on what the rate would be for the new con­struc­tion op­tion.

Schilling also told the board it was the state, that de­cides on the op­tion they will fi­nan­cially sup­port.

City Fi­nance Di­rec­tor Ken Flatto said there would need to be lo­cal school board ap­proval of the ed­u­ca­tional spec­i­fi­ca­tion as well as the city school build­ing com­mit­tee’s ap­proval. The build­ing com­mit­tee can­celed its last meet­ing be­cause of the Thurs­day snow storm.

The state changed the re­im­burse­ment rate a cou­ple of years ago, con­tribut­ing more to ren­o­va­tion projects than brand new build­ings. The per­cent­age of the orig­i­nal build­ing saved also plays a fac­tor.

“At the end of the day the rate is not go­ing to be 79 per­cent ei­ther way,” Flatto said. “I haven’t seen a pro­ject yet where we got a full 79 per­cent. There are al­ways in­el­i­gi­bles.”

The city build­ing com- mit­tee, Flatto added, wants a build­ing that works for the kids.

Dia­man­tis said when he was pre­sented with the op­tions, he was told there was noth­ing of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in the older part of Bas­sick. He said he was told about the au­di­to­rium’s flat floor — most modern au­di­to­ri­ums have a sloped floor — and need for ac­ces­si­bil­ity up­grades and how the 90- year- old boil­ers heat both build­ings.

“The team was clearly pleased with the idea of a new school sim­i­lar to what was done with Harding,” Dia­man­tis said, who agreed more would be el­i­gi­ble for re­im­burse­ment with a new school.

Dur­ing its pre­sen­ta­tion to the board, ar­chi­tects from Perkins East­man of Stam­ford said that a ren­o­vated or only par­tially new school would be a chal­lenge and also less ef­fi­cient than one that was com­pletely new.

The ar­chi­tects said that the cost of re­mov­ing haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als from a build­ing be­ing ren­o­vated would likely be more costly than sim­ply elim­i­nat­ing the haz­ard and start­ing from scratch.

Dia­man­tis said a firmer price tag won’t be avail­able un­til there is a firm de­sign. A firm de­sign is wait­ing on an en­roll­ment study the state will ac­cept. The dis­trict has a 1,050 en­roll­ment forecast, but needs more pre­cise count based on de­mo­graph­ics, build­ing per­mits and birth rates.

All agree that the cur­rent Bas­sick foot­print is too large by at least 30,000 square feet.

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia file photo

A view of Bas­sick High School in Bridge­port on July 25.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.