By Carley Dangona
WEST SPRINGFIELD – At the regular meeting of the Planning and Construction Committee (PCC) on Feb. 4, one member returned after a yearlong absence.
One day after the Town Council approved his reappointment, David Partridge returned for duty on the PCC, hours after being sworn in. His term expires on Jan. 1, 2016.
In 2012, Partridge’s previous PCC appointment expired. Former Mayor Gregory Neffinger chose not to re-appoint the PCC chairman, citing different visions for West Springfield as his reason. The announcement came after Partridge had openly criticized some of Neffinger’s decisions regarding the library renovation.
“I received positive feedback from all the members that served with him on the PCC,” Mayor Edward Sullivan said regarding Partridge’s return.
“I glad I’m back,” Partridge, a civil engineer, said. When asked which project he is most excited to delve into, he responded the high school. He explained that the building phase of the new West Springfield High School is ending, but there is still much work to be done with the project including the demolition of the old high school and the creation of the parking and field areas in the former school’s footprint.
At the start of the PCC meeting on Feb. 4, Sullivan asked its members to consider becoming part of the library project again. “The advisory council doesn’t have the same purview as your committee. I’d like you to take part as you are doing with the high school project,” he said.
The PCC voted in favor of the motion.
During the meeting, Andy Gentile, a construction representative from Strategic Building Solutions, provided the PCC with an update of the high school project. He told the committee that the building is in “the final cleaning stage and the furniture is being delivered.”
Douglas Mattoon, PCC member and director of the town’s Planning & Development Division, noted that no Certificate of Substantial Completion had been submitted to the town. He explained that once this step is complete, the building can be occupied and the town can take ownership of the school.
Gentile discussed two issues with the PCC regarding the new school. The first being the seating for the theater, which has arrived but has a “dimensional issue” where the seats fit, but are “tight” and the second being that some of the tile flooring is dented from the placement of classroom tables. Gentile said “we are actively pursuing” the matter. He commented that the manufacturer is going to inspect the floor to determine the cause of the problem.
High School Principal Michael Richard addressed the PCC during the meeting to share the reaction of the students after touring their new school.
“The place is amazing. We’re very, very lucky,” he said. “There’s a sense of renewed excitement about learning. The students love the open air and natural light.”
He jokingly added, “Some seniors are threatening to fail this semester so they can come back.”