The Morgan Building Committee had an attentive audience last night as they announced their recommendations to build a new high school on a new site - one less than a mile up the road.
It was the first time the committee had talked about moving the school to another site in a public meeting.
"After months of investigation and negotiation, the town of Clinton's Morgan Building Committee unanimously recommended moving forward with plans to build the new on a site located at 71 Killingworth Turnpike," said the committee in a prepared statement.
The 36-acre parcel is owned by . It is located about a mile north of the existing high school on Route 81, across the street from Sweetwater Farm.
Gerry Vece, chairman of the committee, said the town has reached a tentative agreement with the owners of the property. The amount of the agreement has not yet been disclosed.
First Selectman Willie Fritz said he has a proposed agreement, in writing, to sell the existing Morgan building and site for $3.9 million.
Architect David Thompson, who is working on preliminary plans for the new school in order to have them priced by construction manager Gilbane, said he believes that if the town sells the existing school site, the town does not have to "repay" the state the reimbursement money it will receive when building a new school.
"If the town has a windfall after selling the old school and gets reimbursed on the new, whatever benefit the town has by selling the property is separate," said Thompson.
Both Vece and committee member David Townsend said the cost of the move would not increase the original proposed cost of the new school due to the fact that the demolition costs are removed from the equation and that the old site would be sold.
The benefits of moving the school to the 71 Killingworth Turnpike location are many, said members of the committee, including:
- No disruption to the students and staff while the new school is being built
- Its location adjacent to the Ethel Peters Complex and the Joel Elementary School would create an extended campus and make for a better collaboration between high school and elementary programs
- Students would no longer have to be transported by bus to the Peters Complex for their athletic activities
- The property would allow for more usable space and improve home athletic field availability
- The new location would enhance safety and traffic flow
- The new location would remove the school from a busy commercial district
- The existing site could be sold and transformed into commercial use - increasing the town's grand list and tax base
- The estimated cost of $4 million to demolish the existing school goes away
The next steps include engineering work (surveying, soils testing, field verification of grades, wetlands study) on the proposed site. No testing has been done on the property by the town.
The committee made a motion to spend $13,000 for engineering work by Nathan L. Jacobson & Associates, Inc. of Chester ($11,000) and Environmental Compliance Services (ECS) of Branford ($2,000) and send the request to the Board of Selectmen.
Update as of Nov. 16: the Board of Selectmen approved the $13,000 and sent the request to the Board of Finance. As a note, the money is coming from a surplus in the BOE budget from fiscal '10-'11.
If the BOF approve it, the next steps will include the estimation of costs to build by the construction management company, Gilbane.
Vece said that they are looking at a February, 2012 time frame to present the design of the new school and the costs to build it to the public.
Questions and feedback can be addressed to Gerry Vece through the committee's website at http://www.clintonct.org/morgan.htm