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School project hits the gas

September 01, 2010
closer to D-Day Tuesday when a Town Council subcommittee threw its support behind a contract to run gas lines to the property.

Town Manager Christopher Clark said several other major contracts should be going before the School Building Committee next week, among them those for water and sewer lines, tree removal and excavation on the site.

"We'll see equipment and trailers up there pretty quick," Clark told the Education & Human Services Subcommittee. "With the weather being as it is, they want to get in and start as much work as they can before winter sets in."

This particular part of the project calls for running a gas and electric line from the closest existing point near the Dresser Hill Road bridge to the sewer plant, then cross-country uphill to the school site. Although the straight-line distance isn't that long, the local topography requires 6,300 feet of pipeline at a cost of $181,000, he said, noting part of the same easement will carry the sewer line downhill. He added the town "can't use just any contractor; we have to use a National Grid-approved one."

A much more costly part of the project will involve installing the waterline, which is planned to start at the DPW barn, run up Guelphwood Road to Torrey Road and down to the site. The current timeline calls for that and the other preliminary work — including blasting about 10 feet off the top of the hill, giving the contractors material to create level areas for the building, parking and playing fields — to be done this year so building can commence next spring. The school is slated to open in September 2012.

The committee also approved buying a small part of one of the neighboring properties to widen the emergency access route to the site. Clark said the price was "nominal." The owner, Ralph Jolin, "agreed we'd just do improvements" to his wall and shrubbery and install a water line connection.

He said the land is necessary to give fire trucks enough space to make the turn into what's commonly called Town Dump Road from Torrey. Such vehicles can already go around the corner the other way, he said.

The $76.5 million project was approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority in January and by the Town Council in February. MSBA is on the hook for just under 80 percent of the cost, minus certain specific things and the costs of bringing utilities to the site; the town's share comes to about $22.7 million.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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