Southwick school site plan review underway

SOUTHWICK – The Planning Board began its site plan review of the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School building project this week after hearing from architects and engineers.
David H. Barkin, a principal at JCJ Architecture, began the presentation with a brief overview of the project, which encompasses Woodland Elementary School, Powder Mill Middle School, and Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional High School (STGRHS).
“Woodland and Powder Mill are pretty much renovation-only,” said Barkin. “We are not adding to the footprint. At Woodland, we are removing the portables, so that footprint will actually be squeezed down.”
The major part of the project will take place at the high school, which will include grades seven and eight once complete.
Barkin said the plan is to go to bid on Woodland and Powder Mill in March or April, then the high school in June or July of next year.
James W. Hoagland, a senior associate at JCJ, said because of the new middle/high school approach, there will be two additions to the existing high school.
“We need more classroom space,” Hoagland said. “There was a clear decision made to separate the seventh and eighth graders from the high school students.”
A middle school wing will be built on the north side of the current building, and a high school wing will be built to the south.
“It will be keeping in sync with the architecture that’s there,” Hoagland said, indicating a brick façade would be built with a stonework foundation.
“We will be adding a second gym three-quarter sized for practice and for middle school,” he added.
Landscape architect John G. Stewart of CR3 site planning and landscape architects discussed the outside space.
“The existing parking lot on the north side will be moved because of the middle school wing,” he told the board. “There will be a bus drop-off in front and a new parking lot to the north, as well as a designated parent drop-off.”
Stewart said traffic calming speed tables will be put in place.
“It’s basically an elevated walkway,” he said.
Planning Board Chairman Douglas Moglin asked about whether the number of employees was taken into consideration when planning the number of parking spaces.
“Yes – I think we’re good,” said Stewart.
Civil engineer Christopher M. Garcia, principal at Garcis, Galuska and Desousa, said there would be new systems at the school.
“Because of the amount of renovation, we will have a new electrical service,” he said, adding there would also be a new transformer, on-site generator, and a standby generator.
Garcia said the school would include a full sprinkler system and addressed drainage.
The subject of sewers and septic systems came up and Barking said the existing septic systems “are working and are acceptable” and once sewers are available in the future, that could be discussed further.
Moglin asked about lighting and was told the perimeter of the school would have new lighting and much of the existing exterior lighting would receive an update to reduce light spillage.
Hoagland assured the board that the group has been meeting with the police and fire chiefs throughout the process.
Planning Board members agreed to hold off on a vote this week.
“I think we would like to take a meeting to talk it over with the other boards involved,” Moglin said.
The board agreed to take up the measure at its Nov. 13 meeting, which would also allow new Town Planner Alan Slessler to review the plans.

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