Coleytown still on schedule for 2020 reopening
WESTPORT — It’s been a busy summer for the Coleytown Middle School Building Committee, but all signs currently point to the group reaching its goal of an August 2020 reopening.
In July, the Representative Town Meeting approved a $32 million plan to restore Coleytown Middle School, which has been closed since September due to mold issues.
That same month, the CMS Building Committee was approved to pursue state reimbursement for some of the costs under the “renovate as new” clause.
“For certain items you can get up to a 20 percent reimbursement,” Chairman Don O’Day said at the CMS Building Committee meeting on Wednesday.
According to O’Day, if they qualified for the funds, the town would see a return around 2022. As part of the clause, the committee may be tasked to complete a list of items by the state, including a school fields survey.
However, O’Day assured his committee plans to stick to its timeline with a go, or no-go decision marked for April 15.
“If it takes away the time to get the building open for the next school year then we’re going to perhaps not pursue it,” he said of the reimbursement. “But right now we’re doing what we have to do. It’s a tremendous amount of work.”
Westport Project Manager Susan Chipouras said work on the the building has provided an opportunity to bring any existing issues up to state code.
“For example, years ago you could put an outlet above the ceiling if you have a projector to plug it in. You can’t do that anymore. That’s something that’s going to have to change,” she said. “There are also some issues with how the ceiling grid and some light fixtures are supported.”
Chipouras added this would not only be important for reimbursement funds, but for approval from the town’s building department.
An industrial hygienist has also been on site testing for lead, mold and more. Eight fabric partitions in classrooms were tested for mold as well.
“Six of them had nothing and two of them had trace that all could be clean,” she said, adding thoroughly cleaning the partitions would be added to the scope of the building’s work.
The committee is also working with Eversource through an incentive program — which offers discounts and rebates for energy-efficient upgrades — as another way to potentially fund the project.
“There’s certain things we could do with energy rebates based on structural changes we make to the building, and we will pursue those as best we can,” O’Day said. “They want us to reduce energy. It’s about everybody being a good citizen and realizing energy is a finite resource.”
The next key date, O’Day said, will be Oct. 1, when construction designs should become available.
“That will begin the approval process for our committee, as well as the bidding process,” he said.