A Big Step: State Gives Thumbs up to Clark Ave School Feasibility Study

The Board of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (SBA) gave the okay Wednesday morning of the Feasibility Study plan created by the Chelsea Public Schools for the new Clark Avenue Middle School.

“It was a big step,” said Gerry McCue of the Chelsea Schools. “There are a lot of benchmarks in this process and this is definitely a big benchmark under our belt.”

He said the next phase will include much more detailed architectural work. It is known as the Schematic Design Phase.

“The next phase is to do a schematic design of the project,” he said. “That is not construction documents, but it is very close to construction documents. It shows how the project can go from a concept to something that can really work on the site. It requires the architects to do a lot more work and show the floor plans, the classroom layouts, open spaces, amenities, the way to get people in and out of the building and a loading dock. It has to show how it will make sense on the footprint.”

The Feasibility study began earlier this fall when the schools began meeting with parents at the Clark Avenue – as well as with staff members and the Clark Ave School Building Committee.

After a prolonged process – and an exhausting look at every single option available – the schools came up with a preferred design, which is what was approved Wednesday morning.

That design is to build a new school on the site of the existing Clark Avenue Middle School – which was formerly the old Chelsea High School.

As they begin to work on the next phase, McCue said they will also begin meeting with the City Council.

Councillor Brian Hatleberg told the Record that an initial meeting has been set up for Tuesday, Nov. 26, to review the school plans.

“The Council’s engagement in this process will be starting now,” he said.

McCue said they are excited to bring the Council into the discussion and to begin talking about funding the City’s portion of the school. Chelsea will likely get a very generous contribution towards building the school from the state, but there will still be a portion that will have to be paid for by Chelsea taxpayers.

“That will be a big thing for the City to see how they can look at the funding of this and make the City portion a reality,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the Monday meeting because it will give us a chance to bring the Council up to speed…The Council hasn’t had the same level of attention yet, but we will provide them with plenty of information at the Monday meeting. We’ll  show all the options we looked at and why we thought this was the best for the educational program and the City’s ability to pay its portion.”

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 6 p.m. in Chelsea City Hall.

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