Public Comment: Construction At Fort River Site Will Be Complete A Year Sooner


Aerial conceptual map for construction of a new elementary school at the current site of Fort River School. Photo: Elementary School Building Committee

The following public comment was offered at the meeting of the Elementary School Building Committee on June 3, 2022

Thank you very much for posting the full cost estimates and phasing diagrams. It is great to get this detail.

My primary concern is for this project to succeed and the override to pass handily.

I’m concerned that any discomfort some of you may have felt today when trying to answer Phoebe’s questions will only be multiplied when it comes time to ask taxpayers to voluntarily raise their taxes for this project. This plan has to pass an override. I would ask that you give some deep thought as to why you are leaning toward one site or the other and ask yourself if the community will agree with you when the vote comes up next April. Think about what is motivating your choice, and what site is best for kids first and foremost.

Consider these facts:

  • Wildwood will be a construction site for a year longer.
  • It will have no playground or fields for three years.
  • When completed in summer 2027, it will have no playing field.
  • There will be no room for the whole school community and families to gather for events such as the Multicultural Fair that happened last week.
  • There won’t be enough parking for 175 cars for the first year the school is occupied and you have not offered an alternative location.
  • There is only one entrance for all construction vehicles, buses, and cars. And when the school is complete, there would still be only one entrance. And now there has been a suggestion that maybe you shouldn’t bother with the roundabout.

  • Construction at Fort River will be complete a year sooner. 
  • The $2 million higher cost for Fort River is for fabulous fields that are highly valued by residents, as you have heard, and Community Preservation Act monies could be sought to help with that.
  • There is more room to keep contractor laydowns away from parking and kids at Fort River.
  • You told us that a 2-story building was 10% more expensive than 3-story. These estimates indicate it is more like 1.5 % more.

Honestly, based on all that has been presented, I cannot see how anyone could pick Wildwood as a preferred solution here. It is clearly the inferior choice, and I expect it will be much more difficult to get an override passed for a Wildwood project. 

I would encourage you all to choose the better plan and the one that has the greatest chance of success.

Toni Cunningham
Toni B. Cunningham of Amherst is the parent of two children at Wildwood Elementary School.

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