WESTFORD -- A refusal by the Westford Conservation Commission to approve the layout of a planned athletic complex at the Nashoba Valley Technical School has forced proponents back to the drawing board.
Members of the School Committee were given the news by Al Buckley, a member of the group's Equipment and Facilities subcommittee, at their meeting of March 12.
Buckley told fellow School committee members that the refusal would not pose any special problems for the project as engineers will rearrange the layout of the complex to make it fit in the 20 acre space in such a way that construction would not intrude on nearby wetlands.
Talk of creating more space for the school's athletes began some months ago and was prompted by Nashoba Valley's perceived lack of playing fields as compared with those at other area high schools.
Consequently, the School Committee voted last year to authorize the superintendent to move forward with a survey of the acreage behind the existing school building where the track and field complex is to be located as well as establishing the boundary between school property and adjacent St. Mary's Drive.
Landtech Consultants, Inc. were hired to do the surveying and later Tighe & Bond was brought on board for engineering services covering the design of the complex which is to include a six lane running track, synthetic turf, a prepared practice field area, and eventually four new tennis courts.
The entire estimated cost of the new sports complex has been estimated as between $1.5 and $2 million.
In reconfiguring the layout of the complex, said Buckley, designers would seek to avoid environmentally sensitive areas so there will be no need to revisit the ConsCom.
Plans call for the complex to be completed by the fall of this year.
On a separate note, school superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz informed committee members of a legislative breakfast held at the school on March 12 wherein school administrators and members of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools met with state officials to discuss issues of importance to local education.
There, Klimkiewicz was informed that Gov. Deval Patrick's recent budget proposal which assumes passage of sweeping new tax increases, "does not have a snowball's chance in heck" of passing.
New taxes upon which the governor has based his proposed state budget for fiscal 2014, said Klimkiewicz, were "highly unrealistic."
The bottom line was that whatever amounts school districts will receive in local aid from the state, will remain up in the air for some weeks to come as the legislature prepares its own budget and reconciles it with that of the governor.
Also at the March 12 meeting, the School Committee:
--Voted to authorize the superintendent to put the school's busing contract out to bid. According to Klimkiewicz, the school's current three year contract with Dee Bus Service is set to expire and that the price for its services would almost certainly rise in any new agreement. The superintendent warned however, that it was unlikely that in the current economic climate, any other company would be able to match the price the district has enjoyed from Dee.
-- Learned that youngsters named as students of the month included Pepperell residents Kelsie Buckley and George Nieves, both juniors. A member of the school's dental program, Buckley hopes to get into forensic science at the University of New Haven. For his part, Nieves is a member of the engineering technology program and hopes to pursue aerospace engineering after graduation. School Committee members were also told that Shirley resident Brianna White was selected as athlete of the month. A sophomore, White is a member of the design and visual communications program.
-- Learned that Townsend resident Rachel Casey was chosen as a MAVA Outstanding Vocational Technical Student award nominee. Casey is a member of the school's early childhood education program with hopes to become a developmental specialist in college.