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CHICOPEE — The Anna Barry School Building Commission met on April 22 to discuss their request for service to Massachusetts School Building Authority and search timeline for an owner’s project manager.

The MSBA recently approved the changes to the RFS submitted by the commission and an advertisement to hire an OPM started on May 1.

Chicopee Public Schools received approval from the MSBA to move forward into the next phase of its proposal for renovating or constructing a new building after a Feb. 28 vote.

The MSBA and Chicopee Public Schools will partner to conduct a feasibility study for replacing the Anna E. Barry Elementary School.

With the feasibility study also comes the schematic design phase to either renovate or replace the existing school building.

Being invited into a feasibility study showing that Chicopee Public Schools have completed the necessary prerequisites including the filing of its educational profile questionnaire, finalizing enrollment and securing feasibility study schematic design funds.

On Dec. 27, 2022, the MSBA unanimously accepted Anna E. Barry Elementary School as one of the 10 recipients of the organization’s annual efforts to support the design and construction of public school facilities.

Chicopee will receive 80% reimbursement toward the construction of a new school building or extensive renovations in place of Anna E. Barry’s aged facilities on 44 Connell St.

On Nov. 9, 2023, the City Council unanimously approved $1.2 million for a feasibility study. Staff will be working with the district to study options that maintain their current grade — kindergarten through fifth grade — configuration for no more than 340 students plus pre-K.

Mayor John Vieau, along with other city offcials, have explained in the past why Anna E. Barry either needs to be rebuilt or renovated.

Vieau said, “We’re highly motivated to either renovate or replace our Barry Elementary School that was built in 1963. The building has, I call it functional obsolesces, when it comes to the way it was built with tiering. There’s no elevator and it’s really difficult, especially for a handicapped student, to make their way throughout the building.”

Other problems Vieau laid out is the gym is located on the third floor, the whole building is “laden” with asbestos in the ceilings and floors, there are single-pane windows, no air conditioning, no sprinkler system for fire suppression and an outdated roof, boiler, generator, phone and HVAC systems.

During this phase, the owner’s project manager will submit — on behalf of the district and its designer — a Preliminary Design Program and a Preferred Schematic Report.

Approval by the MSBA Board of Directors is required for all projects to proceed into schematic design.

According to the RFS, the tentative timeline shows that a decision for the OPM for the project will be chosen by July 3 with informal site visits, interviews and panels taking place before that.

The RFS was approved by the MSBA which outlines the request to study the problems and issues identified in the statement of interest, work with the enrollment projection of 340 students and come up with a plan to provide a better education passed on the challenges.

A six person School Building Subcommittee including the chief procurement officer will be responsible for reviewing responses from proposals.

The work is divided into the project phases as listed in Attachment A of the contract.

The durations of the phases are estimates only, based on the Owner’s experience.

Actual durations may vary depending upon the project agreed upon by the owner and the MSBA.

The total duration of the contract is estimated as 20-24 months for the feasibility study/schematic design phase; 10-12 months for the design development/construction documents/bidding phase and 24-36 months for the construction phase.

During this phase, the city is looking into Article 97 if they decided to replace the school and build it on the abutting park behind the current location of Anna Barry.

tgarnet@thereminder.com | + posts