|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM The Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) hopes that the ongoing demolition of the old Minnechaug Regional High School will be completed and a new access road added by this spring.
HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea said the demolition of the old school and the building of the new road, which would provide direct access to the school from Main Street, are all part of the second phase of the project. The first phase involved the construction of the new school building, which was opened to students on Aug. 29, 2012, the first day of classes for the 2012-2013 school year.
"The question on everyone's mind is when will the north access road be completed and we're hopeful we can get it done before the end of the school year," O'Shea said.
The superintendent added that the demolition process has been slowed somewhat due to Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools (MA-CHPS) regulations the district agreed to follow.
"The demolition has very recently gone a little slower partly because the contractors are following the MA-CHPS requirements that certify that this is a green building project," he said. "The contractor has an obligation to recycle, repurpose or reuse the materials from the old school. All of the concrete, all of the wood, all of the metal has to be sorted. It's all part of getting the additional reimbursement from the state that saved us money on this project."
In the meantime, he acknowledged there has been congestion near the school's Tinkham Road entrance, currently the lone means of accessing the school.
"There have been some adjustments we have had to make. There is about a 15-minute window where there is congestion, but it is not unusual in the sense that it is the type of traffic you see going into many high schools," he said. "When the second access road is complete, we expect to see significant relief to the traffic issue."
The project's second phase also includes a new 119-space parking lot and the construction of new athletic fields. He said he anticipated the total completion of the second phase by August.
"We still have a fair amount of work to do," he said. "Drainage and irrigation, site lighting, fire hydrants, subsurface preparations, grading and landscaping are all part of it."
O'Shea also said that there is the possibility that the athletic fields will not be ready for use in the fall.
"Over the summer we will assess the readiness of the fields," he said. "They may require a full season before they are fully ready."
Once the second phase of the project is complete, the Massachusetts School Building Authority will conduct an audit on the project and the district will continue a process of assessing the functionality of all of the school's systems and address any lingering issues.
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