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GHS Construction

GHS construction to begin this week

GREENFIELD — Nearly three years after the Greenfield School Building Committee first met on a Monday evening in May 2010, construction crews will roll into town this coming week to start building the new $66 million high school.

Boston-based firm Shawmut Design and Construction will take control of the school’s parking lot and begin early site work in preparation for a busy summer of construction.

Throughout next school year, half of the new building will rise from the former parking lot in time for students to occupy it in September 2014. The rest of the school will be completed during the 2014-2015 school year.

The interior design has been finalized, subcontractors are bidding for work and invitations have been sent out for a ceremonial groundbreaking on the morning of April 29.

“We’re on schedule, we’re on budget, and I’m pretty confident that we’re going to get this done the way we said we were going to get it done,” said Keith McCormic, the committee’s chairman.

“It’s kind of humbling to realize that this project, that has just been consuming a lot of energy from a lot of people ... that (we’re) finally putting a shovel in the ground,” he added. “This summer, people will be able to drive by on Silver Street, peek down Kent Avenue and see stuff happening.”

Project Manager Jim Byrne said that most of the early work will involve site preparation and creating a temporary front entrance at the north of the school (located near the faculty cafeteria area). The entrance will likely be used beginning in the final weeks of this school year.

Shawmut will be ready to get major construction going as soon as school ends in June, said Byrne.

Subcontractors bidding

Unlike when it chose its construction manager Shawmut, the committee won’t get to interview and individually select its subcontractors. State law mandates that several “trade” subcontractors — such as plumbers and painters — are determined through the low bidder procedure.

A subcommittee of the building committee reviewed nearly 100 subcontractors’ qualifications, approving all but six. Pre-qualified subcontractors can now bid for the labor jobs, with all bids due into the town by April 17.

On Tuesday, the subcommittee reversed one of its decisions and qualified New Bedford-based company Lighthouse Masonry.

Lead Architect Lee Dore said he had a negative experience with the subcontractor six years ago, but the subcommittee obtained more references and ultimately changed its mind.

Shawmut gets to choose all other subcontractors, and Project Manager Michael Kearns said that there will be a job fair in late spring or early summer to hire local workers.

More green, less blue in final interior design

Building committee members spent multiple meetings in February debating just how much green there should be in Greenfield’s new school.

With maple panels on yellow walls, and blue and green curved patterns on the floor, architects said they were hoping to create an abstract forest theme.

Some members were concerned by the amount of blue on the floor, the color of Turners Falls High School teams — so the architects changed it to a darker shade of green. They also incorporated the “Green Wave” logo and have plans to reproduce some of the murals in the current high school.

And the gym is filled with green, which is the key place for the color to be, said High School Principal Donna Woodcock.

“That’s where we should think about the focus,” she said, at a Feb. 25 meeting. “When (they) go into the auditorium, people aren’t going to be upset if it’s not green.”

Poet Seat program staying on site

The building committee considered multiple options for where to relocate the Poet Seat program — a therapeutic day program that works with seven to 12 students to help them transition back into public schools — but ultimately decided to relocate it to another part of the property.

The program is housed in trailers next to the high school parking lot and had to be moved to make way for construction. The committee had discussed buying new trailers or renting out space at an off-site location. But eventually members decided to lease two trailers, for a total cost of $96,000, and place them north of the current high school building.

On Tuesday, Byrne and Superintendent Susan Hollins toured the Cornerstone Christian School — which is closing at the end of this school year — but Hollins decided it wouldn’t be a good fit for the program. School officials wanted to keep the program on high school grounds since it is supervised by Woodcock and often uses high school services.

Webmaster needed

The building committee wants to set up a live video feed of construction and post updates to a website — but they need a web manager to create and run the site for two years.

Lane Kelly, the town finance director, said that there haven’t been online updates about the project since voters approved the school construction last spring.

The building committee has the money and capability to set up the video feed but would need someone to stream that on a site and add information about the project as it progresses.

Anyone interested should contact Kelly at 413-772-1567 ext. 102.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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