NORTH ADAMS -- Although city voters won't determine whether the Conte School Renovation Project will move forward until casting their ballots on April 30, they'll have the opportunity this week to learn more about the proposal from the architects and project management team.
A presentation on the project, led by Mayor Richard J. Alcombright and North Adams Public Schools Superintendent James E. Montepare, will take place Wednesday, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in Murdock Hall, room 218, at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
"We're encouraging everyone to go and get the facts about this project from Margo Jones Architects, the project managers from Strategic Building Solutions, Jim Montepare and myself," Alcombright said Monday. "We want people to come whether they're sure about how they will vote, confused or doubtful. We want to ensure people are aware that we've taken everything into consideration -- that there is a gym and adequate play space. We want people to know that we do think it is a safe place and how we'll have traffic under control."
He added, "This is the time to get the facts and information. We're encouraging people to take a look at the project before they vote. We'll also have time at the end of the presentation for people to ask questions."
A citizens' petition, calling for the City Council to rescind its approval of a $29.7 million bond for the renovation project, was turned down by the council on March 12, pushing the funding to a special public vote on April 30. Although the total budget for the project is $29.7 million, the city will be responsible for $6.5 million. The state School Building Authority (MSBA) has agreed to pay 80 percent, or $23.2 million.
"We want voters to understand that this is our project," the mayor said. "This is what the MSBA approved. This is our chance. I shudder to think about what will happen if this doesn't pass."
While MCLA is not sponsoring the event, Alcombright said he is grateful the college is allowing the meeting to be held in Murdock Hall.
"For any of us who knew Murdock Hall prior to its renovation, it's a great example of what a building from that time period can become with an investment and an academic setting in mind," he said. "This allows us to be in a place where a project like this has been done before."
In addition to presentations from the architects and project managers, Montepare will speak about the educational benefits of the building's renovation and redesign.
"The new Conte will be rich with state-of-the-art technologies that help students become both digitally literate and adept," he said in a release. "It is imperative that we provide our children with every possible academic advantage we can give them. We must provide our children with an appropriate 21st century education and skills that will insure their success as productive citizens. Conte will accommodate meaningful project-based learning. It will provide common learning areas which promote mandated collaborative inquiry."
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