Two options considered for Allen Brook School trailers12/24/08

Dec. 24, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The future of the Allen Brook School’s modular classrooms will most likely be decided next month, after the Williston School Board unanimously agreed to present two different master plans to the Development Review Board.

At Thursday night’s School Board meeting, Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason described eight different plans for modular classrooms, of which the board found two to be feasible.

The first plan the School Board intends to present is the idea of refurbishing the exterior of the modular classrooms to better match the rest of Allen Brook. Mason said Banwell Architects — a design firm based in New Hampshire that works with CSSU — estimated the cost of replacement siding and skirting for the classrooms to be around $100,000.

“It would look more substantial than what is there today,” Mason said.

The other option the School Board will bring before the Development Review Board is the idea of building an addition onto Allen Brook and removing the trailers. The addition would have roughly the same amount of square footage as the modular classrooms. A rough estimate of the building cost puts it at more than $5.15 million. The addition would be on the east side of the school.

Mason said if a separate addition were built, a bond would not be brought to voters until 2010, when the modular classroom permit is due to expire. Board members agreed the prospect of building an addition was not an attractive one in the current economy, but they wanted the Development Review Board to see two very different plans on how to deal with the trailers.

School Board Vice Chairwoman Holly Rouelle thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to present more than one plan.

“If they are displeased by it, you will likely hear that from them and be invited back,” Mason said.

Other options brought to the School Board included the following: a proposal to build the original 2002 planned addition, which would cost upwards of $7.92 million; the possibility of renting space in commercial or other types of buildings in Williston as classrooms, which could require a long-term lease and large costs every year to taxpayers; and a lease of classrooms at the Hinesburg Central School, which has some rooms available. The board didn’t see the last option as being very practical, overall. Mason and the board deemed other options impractical as well.

The Allen Brook modular classrooms were installed in 2002 with a four-year permit to accommodate growing enrollment in Williston. The Development Review Board granted a subsequent four-year temporary building permit in 2006 with the stipulation the School Board had to present a master plan in 2008 on what to do with the trailers. The permit expires in 2010.

School Board Chairwoman Darlene Worth said the refurbishing plan seemed to be the most cost effective option on the table.

“Next to building an addition, it looks very inexpensive,” Worth said.

Worth stressed that the master planning stage was an “interim step” and that the Development Review Board would like one of the options presented so work could begin on the site.

Mason said he intended to send the two plans to the Williston Planning and Zoning Department as soon as possible. Town Planning Director Ken Belliveau said he’s talked with members of CSSU and expects the plans shortly, which he would then pass along to the Development Review Board.

“It was their understanding that they would have to get something to us before the end of December to get on the January meeting,” Belliveau said.

Belliveau said the School Board would most likely be scheduled to present its master plan at the Jan. 27 Development Review Board meeting, if all materials are received on time.