Plans coming along for new North Middlesex high-school

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TOWNSEND — The High School Building Committee has been meeting since April 2012 and will continue to meet until the present building is demolished and the project is over, Chairman Robert Templeton said.

The schedule shows the demolition will be complete in 2018.

Meanwhile, the committee and designers have been closing in on a final design.

Construction is slated to begin in the spring. Advertisements for pre-approval of contractors have already gone out, said Peter Collins, the owner’s project manager from Heery International.

Committee members, the superintendent and Collins have started to talk with Townsend officials about the permitting process.

Templeton and Superintendent of Schools Joan Landers met with Townsend inspectors and the town administrator earlier in the day before the committee’s meeting Monday.

The purpose of the meeting was to give the inspectors a better understanding of the resources Collins and the designer will provide, Templeton said.

The budget for building permits is in line with projected expenses.

“I believe there is not going to be much change in the building permits,” Templeton said.

The cost for permits will not be much higher or much lower than the budgeted $350,000.

During the meeting with Townsend officials, they also discussed the roof height of the auditorium. The height of 58 feet above the stage in the auditorium exceeds Townsend’s zoning bylaws for a roof.

Initially, the building inspector thought the area above the stage, to be used for moving sets, was inhabited space and would require a variance or appeal.

The space is a structure above the roof that is not inhabitable, such as a chimney, Templeton said.

“The building commissioner was under the impression this was a roofline,” Templeton said. “He’s going to review these plans.”

Committee members are leaving nothing to chance. They will go ahead and schedule an appeal, Templeton said.

Meetings with the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals are scheduled for January.

The 60 percent design plans are due to the Massachusetts School Building Authority in January.

The committee did not reach a consensus about what the main entrance should look like. Templeton presented four different options, each featuring a one-story entrance with an outdoor overhang. The committee did not decide which option it preferred, but did discuss some preferences.

Landers said she might want to see more brick, but had a hard time conceptualizing the overall appearance from isolated drawings.

The reason for all the glass is so that the building can be green and use natural lighting as much as possible, said Oscar Hills, director of building and grounds.

After showing the four one-story options, Templeton also showed a two-story entrance and said that is the option he prefers.

The single-story entrance is “kind of an old look,” said Sue Lisio, chairman of the Board of Selectmen in Townsend, who also prefers the two-story entrance.

“I would like it to look new,” she added.

The two-story entrance looks more like a shopping center and like it could accommodate a tractor-trailer, Townsend resident Gary Shepherd said.

“It doesn’t reflect the community,” he said. “I can’t believe we’re going to make a decision on the front entry that we’re not 100 percent satisfied with.”

No motion was made to choose one of the entry options. Templeton will ask Symmes Maini and McKee Associates, the designers, to forward drawings of a one-story entrance that incorporates the whole façade.

The one-story design options are on the committee’s website at www.nmhsproject.com.