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North Reading to Hold Special Town Meeting and Election in March

The Special Town Meeting and Special Election are both for the school building project.

North Reading will hold a Special Town Meeting March 18 and a Special Election March 22, both for the school building project. The selectmen voted in favor of the meeting and election Monday night.

The public will be able to vote for or against an override for the school building project at the Special Town Meeting and Special Election in March. If they vote against an override, the SSBC will have to work with the existing budget.

The construction documents are scheduled to be 90 percent complete in February and a new budget estimate should be available Feb. 25. The final Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) is expected by March 11, according to Superintendent Kathleen Willis. Once the SSBC has that figure, they will know how much more than the original budget of 107.7 million they will have to ask for at Special Town Meeting.

Residents are encouraged to attend meetings that the SSBC is hosting to provide information about the project and how it got to this point. The first of three meetings was held Tuesday night. Please check in with us Thursday at 6 a.m. for details if you were not able to make it. The next two meetings are scheduled for Feb. 28 and March 14.

Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney strongly suggested that residents attend the meetings in order to get factual information about the project. Selectman Joe Foti concurred and stated that it was important for residents to go to the meetings before voting.

Gail January 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM
No more tax increases.
Michael L January 30, 2013 at 01:25 PM
NOT ONE PENNY MORE...............This project is North reading's BIG DIG. The SSBC and our elected selectmen keep spending and spending because we let them. Whatever figures they throw out are never correct as they bit and switch. Just these special elections are costing thousands of dollars. They have to learn to live within theri budget like most of us. NOT ONE PENNY MORE.
Ed Canney January 30, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Do the Selectman calculate the costs of Special Town Meetings & Elections. Its a $10,000 cost. We have Town Meeting in April & Election in May. You incorporate a school warrant article in the April meeting & the question on the May ballot. That's how it was done in the past for over-rides. Maybe the Selectman don't want to be on the same ballot as a school over-ride, thus a Special Election two months prior. They can't see the forest for the trees (pun intended). Fairness & fiscal responsibility apparently is not their strong suit.
John Intorcio January 30, 2013 at 03:28 PM
LET'S DO IT RIGHT! Ed, did you attend the information session last night? If you did, you heard the rationale for the special meeting and election. If the project slips off schedule, it'll cost the town way more than the $10k in logistics costs as students are shuffled during construction. Michael - Did you attend last night? Did you hear the rationale for going out for a vote? The SSBC could work within the present budget, but we'd end up with a lesser facility. It sounds to me like we're talking an increase of 10% or less based on the "preliminary non-binding not-yet-final" numbers being tossed around last night. (We won't know for sure until the Guaranteed Maximum price comes in on March 11.) Personally, I’d rather pay 10% more up front to get the job done right and end up with a quality facility that can serve the town for years to come rather than spending $107m building a shell that we have to pay more to finish later. LET'S DO IT RIGHT!
Mel Webster January 30, 2013 at 04:11 PM
First, it is important to note that we no longer have an April town meeting. A couple of years ago the annual meeting was switched to June. Waiting until June to vote on this could end up costing this community an additional $1.5 million or more because of the delay in construction. And, that cost would be incurred regardless of whether the override is approved or not. Second, good summary, John. If people feel they cannot afford to pay any more in taxes and want to vote no on the override, I completely respect that. However, it is always better to attend the public information session and get as much information as possible so you can understand the situation. It will cost us an estimated $500,000 a month for any delay in this project. And, while I am not sure that a special town meeting/special election cost the town $10,000, if it does, $10,000 is certainly a lot less than $500,000 a month. Thanks to everyone who attended last night and for asking a lot of good questions and raising a lot of solid points. It was a small turnout, but those in attendance got to hear the details. We expect that by the February 28th meeting we will be close enough to the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) to be able to give a range regarding how much we will be asking for at the special town meeting and special election.
Jeff Witts January 30, 2013 at 04:38 PM
I have said this before. If you are going to blog, please use the facts. If you do not know the facts, please attend the SSBC meetings or contact the chair of the School Committee or SSBC for details. I attended the meeting last night and it was very informative. Any delays in the project will be very costly. Bottom line is: Vote no and many items will be eliminated from the school project, but the school will be built. Vote yes and all items will be restored to what we voted on in March 2012. The next informational session will be Feb 28. This session will present hard numbers on most items as the CM will present GMP.
Jeff Witts January 30, 2013 at 04:40 PM
This is not a bait and switch. Did you attend last night? The SSBC and OPM explained in detail how the estimate was derived and why it was too low. I suggest you attend the next informational session on Feb 28.
Mel Webster January 30, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Slight correction. We plan to have a range in terms of the override cost at the February 28 session, but we will not have the GMP available until the March 14 information session. The schedule calls for the selectmen, school committee and SSBC to hold a joint meeting on March 11 to receive the guaranteed maximum price from the construction manager at risk, Gilbane.
John Intorcio January 30, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Ed - You really got stop attacking Mel. It weakens whatever little validity your argument may have had in the first place.
Mel Webster January 30, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Ed. Again, please stop. Your comments are beyond insulting. Almost everything you post here is inaccurate and misleading. We will not have the guaranteed maximum price until March 11 and there is nothing we can do about that. The high school is approximately 55 years old and DOES need to be replaced. I continue to have no idea what you are talking about in terms of special interest groups. I have NO agenda to confuse the electorate and never have. That to me seems to be your main agenda. Again, I will not engage in any further arguing with you on a public message board because it is futile. One last question: were you at the public information session last night? I think I know the answer.
JIM January 30, 2013 at 08:41 PM
Why didnt we get a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) in the first place ?
Jeff Witts January 30, 2013 at 08:52 PM
When the project was estimated for the vote in March 2012, it was based on 20% completion of the contruction documents. There was no Constructon Manager at that time. There is nobody in the construction industry who will give a GMP with only 20% contruction documents. When the contruction documents are at 90% (which should be late february), then the CM will give the GMP.
John Intorcio January 30, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Because the GMP is to be based on the 90% design drawings. Look, it's just like doing construction work on your house. You think to yourself, "It'd be nice to build an addition!" So, you draw a sketch and you show it to some builders and they look at it and say, “something like that's probably going to run you around $40,000.” So you go to your bank and you get approval for an equity loan for the $40k and another $5k to pay an architect. You get approved, you make the commitment, you hire an architect, and he does detailed construction drawings. Once those are done, you get a new and more accurate estimate based on the details. If it’s higher than the $40k, you have to go back to the bank and ask for a bigger loan – or you take out some of the amenities you wanted in the first place. We’re waiting for those 90% drawings to be done so we can get that updated GMP. Then, if it’s bigger than originally anticipated (and everyone expects so), the Town has to go back to the voters to get either more funding approved, or direction to take out the amenities. Capisce?
Jeff Witts January 30, 2013 at 09:04 PM
What? 3800 voters agreed to have their taxes increase in March 2012. The current high school is extremely outdated with science labs from the 1950's. The renovation done in the late 1980's was a bandaid to correct issues when the school was built in the 1950's. Several classrooms were divided to create more classroom space instead of adding onto the building. These classrooms are EXTREMELY small and do not meet the minimum square footage required today by the MSBA. We need to move into the 21st century. There has been no deception by current elected officials and volunteer members of the SSBC. Only distortion of the facts by special interest groups.
Kathleen January 30, 2013 at 10:46 PM
What is the special interest group you are talking about? You seem to be the only one who knows what it is?
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 03:21 AM
"When the project was estimated for the vote in March 2012, it was based on 20% completion of the construction documents"...Jeff you may want to check that. I didn't see anywhere in the public domain that the $49M override vote was based on a 20% estimate.
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 03:26 AM
So can only see the the costs 4 days prior to Town Election...Have you been to Moscow, Mel? That's pretty much how they do issues such as this! You have no need to know...so don't ask! Would you please as a democratic office holder, admit you have a plan to go forward w/an agenda to confuse the electorate. Why would any property tax payer agree to A 30.9% increase when the HS did not need to be replaced? Are you perceiving reality? I think not. Please see the Issues and (then speak), not to a special interest group.
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 03:41 AM
Mel you stated the HS is 55 years old, not mentioning it was renovated in '93. My college has a Language Arts Building that is 160 years old...so what's your point?
Jeff Witts January 31, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Once again, Ed is twisting the facts. It was not a 20% estimate. It was an estimate based on 20% of the design being complete.
John Intorcio January 31, 2013 at 04:36 AM
C'mon Ed! Aren't you the guy who knows everything about construction? Did you think the design was complete at the onset of the project?
Mel Webster January 31, 2013 at 05:47 AM
Actually, the estimate was based on design documents that were 20 percent complete. Construction documents were not even started. Again, this is all in accordance with MSBA regulations. As for the "renovation " of the high school, it truly was a band-aid after the town voted against a larger project. Basically, the "renovation" included a new library, new windows, and dividing larger class rooms into smaller spaces to have more rooms. Many of those rooms now do not meet state standards. The school is sadly out of date, the mechanical systems are nearing the end of their useful life, the septic system is almost completely shot, the gym floor has been refinished so many times it is almost down to nothing, the auditorium is deplorable with a large number of broken seats and insufficient lighting and stage, the science labs are beyond outdated and we don't have nearly enough of them, and the electrical system is maxed out and has been for years. Two years ago the lighting for the spring musical blew the electrical service for the school. There is a lot more, but you get the picture. Other than that, the school is in great shape.
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 04:24 PM
John, thanks for the kudos..."knows everything about construction" No I didn't think the design cost were complete. Thus my comments last year that the project was being "rushed" for approval without all the necessary information. But I did not see anywhere in the public domain that we were being asked to vote on a projection of a 20% cost estimate. There were a lot of numbers thrown out at the time and most seemed to be incomplete & inaccurate. There were various members of the SSBC speaking publicly about the same issues, but using conflicting amounts. But again, that's for the compliment.
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Jeff, I'm not "twisting" anything. You haven't read my comment correctly. I said 20% was the basis of the estimate. That is also stated by Mel, the SSBC & Selectman. I said: "I didn't see anywhere in the public domain that the $49M override vote was based on a 20% estimate."" Based" is the term you seem to be misinterpreting. By based I mean "projected from" Thought it was clear, but perhaps not.
John Intorcio January 31, 2013 at 04:43 PM
You're welcome Ed! I should point out, however, that my compliment was based solely on your own evaluations - and we all know the validity of those! ;)
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 04:57 PM
Mel,thanks for your detailed answer as to the condition of the current HS. The term "maintenance" comes to mind...or as the School Committee termed the issue last Spring, "deferred maintenance".
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 05:20 PM
You know John, did you ever think some of your nasty comments are unnecessary? But in that vain...I'll compare my resume against yours any day of the week. I think I can say that categorically w/out any doubt.
Mel Webster January 31, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Ed -- Again more misleading information. Wayne Hardacker and his staff maintain our schools as well if not better than any other district in this state. In fact, if you paid attention to the facts, you would know that we actually got an additional almost 2 percent reimbursement from the state for the high school/middle school project because of how well Wayne and his staff have maintained these inefficient, insufficient, aging buildings. In addition, the MSBA agreed that we needed a new high school. They said that they would not approve any type of addition or renovation to the existing building. I will continue to provide the facts and the truth about this project.
John Intorcio January 31, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Really Ed? We're gonna play "Mine's Bigger"?
Ed Canney January 31, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Mel, your reference to "misleading information" is again...incorrect. If Hardacker was doing his job, you would not have had an electrical failure at a public assembly. Why don't you get that? Call the Fire Dept, call the Electrical Inspector...those are the facts Mel! By the way, Hardacke'sr performance would be a subject for "executive session". My God, you actually had an electrical failure during a public assembly?! Beyond comprehension...and please quote me!
laura February 01, 2013 at 01:49 PM
I think that it is time for North Reading to look around at it's neighboring communities and around the state and see how others cities and towns are benefitting from split tax rates. Why are we driving down Main street and Concord Street looking at these businesses without reaping any benefits from having them in town. Time to do the right thing here and stop asking the hard working people of the town! What is the real reason that the the the town has not gone to a split tax rate?

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