Updated: February 19th 2001:

(The major topic monopolizing the discussion at Town Meetings had been the fate of the athletic fields, an issue which is now resolved. The P&Z threw out the 8-24 proposal by a 6-0 vote. They said that the new school should NOT be built on the site of the current fields, and further that the fields should not be used as a staging area for any other construction. A revised version of the plan taking into account this ruling was shown to a limited audience Friday February 16th. 

To be notified of upcoming public meetings contact Jackie Fuchs at the School Building Committee office on 136 Riverside Avenue: 
203-341-2450 or email

You can also read announcements off the Town Hall list:
To visit the Town Hall list without a password simply click where it says visit without joining. 

Dan Kail heads the Staples Sub-committee and can be reached at 203-226-5491 or dk105n@aol.com 

From: http://www.westport-news.com 
Jan 12, 2001
Staples Plan Goes Before P&Z Jan. 18
By Jon Wason

Refurbishing Staples High School will be the topic of a Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Comments and questions from the public are welcome as the commission reviews a concept for the school.

The Westport Board of Education has approved a conceptual plan presented by the architectural firm Fuller and

D'Angelo, which would add a three-story, 276,000-square-foot academic wing onto Staples High School. The $88 million project calls for demolition of most of the school that was built in 1958.

Kathy Barnard, director of Westport's Planning and Zoning Department, said, "We will be looking at just the general layout and not the specifics."

A second public hearing will be held later when the details of the project are clarified.

According to state statute an 8-24 report is required, for any purchase, sale or changes proposed for town-owned property. The P&Z must respond within 35 days with a report, (either favorable or unfavorable) toward the 8-24 application, which was filed last week.
Ms. Barnard said a positive response from the commission could be accompanied by recommendations. If a negative response is given, those items have to be addressed to gain approval.

Ms. Barnard added that the commission is particularly interested in traffic flow, parking lots and location of playing fields.

Tuesday, the Code Enforcement Committee met to discuss concerns about the proposed plans for renovating the high school. Representatives of the Police, Fire and Health Departments, as well as other regulators, reviewed the plans and asked questions.

Ms. Barnard said the Code Enforcement Committee also met prior to discuss the construction projects for Bedford Middle School, Kings Highway Elementary and Greens Farm's Elementary schools. Some have been completed, while others are underway.

"That process has worked well," she said. Because of the tight timetables involved in seeking all the approvals, she said. "It is important to understand one another's needs. That way there are no surprises."

She added that state regulations also must be taken into consideration.

Westport News columnist Dan Woog comments on the renovation process

There was a meeting on Saturday January 13, 2001 for the public.

Staples Sub-Committee to hold Neighborhood Workshop
The Staples Subcommittee of the School Building Committee hosted its first Neighborhood Workshop
Saturday 13 at 10 a.m. in the Staples High School Cafeteria.
The subcommittee and architects from the firm Fuller and D'Angelo discussed the design concept for the expansion/renovation of the school. The School Building Committee and the Board of Education have approved the design.

Members of the community was invited to attend. For more information call Dan Kail, chairman of the Staples Subcommittee at 226-5491 or Tammy Pincavage, public information chairman at 226-3215.

The plan presented by Spector Group in May included photovoltaic panels and the idea was to create the state's largest school solar project.

(Thanks to Jon Wason at the Westport News for forwarding this press release.)

From: http://www.westport-news.com  
Jan 05, 2001
By Jon Wason

The Westport Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a plan to build a three-story, 276,000 square foot academic wing onto Staples High School. But the vote was not without discussion, including board member Caren Calish Gagliano's call to add an amendment that $10 to $15 million be cut from the project, which could cost $88 million at last estimate.

"I prefer to look at it up front," she said, adding that otherwise a year later town funding bodies would be demanding the cuts.

Another board member, Neil Gerhardt, said he thought that mandating cuts as a percentage might be better.

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon suggested that the board not deal with a specific number. He said Dan Kail, chairman of the Staples Subcommittee of the School Building Committee (SBC), had made it clear that the School Building Committee would "come back with plans to reduce it."

Ms. Gagliano also suggested that the board proceed on the Staples project the same way the Bedford Middle School will be done by closing the building for a year so the construction could proceed without students present.

But Mr. Landon said, "We have to do the best we can with what we have. We've come up with a wonderful option." He said that before the new middle school was built on North Avenue, independent assessors and a local committee examined all kinds of sites and there was no viable alternative. "There is no place else to put the students."

The approved plan referred to as option 1B, calls for construction of the academic wing first and demolition of a large portion of the existing school later.

Joe Fuller junior, vice president of Fuller and D'Angelo, the architectural firm that created the plans, said the new three-story academic wing keeps math and science classrooms near each other, and keeps a small footprint because it is a three-story addition. He said travel distances are fairly identical to the present building. Parking would be expanded slightly and the bus traffic would be separated from cars. Some athletic fields would be relocated. The auditorium, swimming pool, field house, gymnasium and cafeteria would be kept intact.

The old section, including the social studies, science, English areas, and the library would be demolished after the fixtures and furniture are moved to the new wing. Mr. Fuller said work is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2002 and finish in the summer of 2004.

The entrance would be on the third floor, which would contain science, and math classrooms, the Guidance Department and administrative offices. The next floor down would be the location of the library/media center, and classrooms for social studies, English and residual science and math classrooms. The lowest level would contain world language, computer technology and the Art Department.

Joe Fuller senior president of Fuller and D'Angelo said, "We examined every possibility. Staples has a most excellent reputation. If you relocate it for three or four years [during construction] what will happen to that school?"

Vice Chairman Cheryl Bliss said, "I have concerns about splitting up students." She said she supported the concept as presented.

Mary Parmelee said, "I don't necessarily feel we'd get a better building but those children will not get a better education."

Chairman Steve Halstead said there would have to be a guarantee that there would be equity in the education even during the disruption.

At the Dec. 18 Board of Education meeting, Mr. Kail, put the price of the project at $88 million but he stressed that numbers have room for refinement as the details are scrutinized.

After Board Secretary Sandra Urist made a motion to approve the concept and Linda Merk-Gould seconded it, Ms. Gagliano put a motion on the table to amend the motion to include reducing anticipated building costs by 10 to 20 percent.

Ms. Parmelee said, "Let the School Building Committee come up with cost efficiency."
Mr. Halstead said, "Our fundamental responsibility is to provide an educational environment." He said the educational specifications must be followed carefully and went on to list many items that were taken out back in June, including dressing rooms for the Drama Department, a teacher center and a dance studio.

When put to a vote the amendment only garnered two votes Mr. Gerhardt and Ms. Gagliano. But the vote on the motion as read by Ms. Urist passed unanimously.

Staples High School was built in 1958 and later renovations connected the buildings and added space for athletics and arts. This year there are 1,123 students at Staples but enrollment projections point to a student body of 2,008 in the year 2010.

Jo Fuchs Luscombe, SBC chairman, said the plan is "everything a flagship high school should be."

From: Westport News  
Dec 15, 2000
Staples Subcommittee Recommends Plan

By Jon Wason

The Staples Subcommittee of the School Building Committee on Wednesday evening, unanimously voted to recommend a plan for updating Staples High School, which calls for a combination of demolition and restoration. The design would include demolition of most of the present building, including the library, social studies, science and English areas and the construction of a curved, three-story addition near the fieldhouse. The auditorium, swimming pool, field house, gymnasium and cafeteria are kept intact.

Chairman of the School Building Committee, Jo Fuchs Luscombe said, "Now it is time to fine tune the plan and look for ways to economize." At the meeting, Dan Kail, chairman of the Staples Subcommittee, put the cost for the plan at $88 Million. But Ms. Luscombe said members of the Building Committee expressed a desire to find savings. She added besides being members of the committee they are also Westport taxpayers. "It is like their own pocketbooks."

In June, the Board of Education approved a 100-page educational specifications document detailing the exactly what the board wants in the building. The plans are geared toward accommodating 2,008 students. However, Ms. Luscombe said changes may be proposed to the educational specifications in an effort to trim costs.

Three concepts being explored by the by the Staples Subcommittee were set apart by the amount of demolition they used. The plan recommended Wednesday has the advantages of completing work one year sooner than the other two plans, and providing classrooms and mechanical fittings that are completely new.

The school was built in 1958 and later renovations connected the buildings and added space for athletics and arts. This year there are 1,123 students at Staples but enrollment projections point to a student body of 2,008 in the year 2010.

Reply from John Rountree of Solar Works:
December 26, 2000


Thanks for the info. I have been following the Staples project in the Westport News and The Minuteman for some time. I took a tour of Staples a few months ago and agree with the concept of demolishing most of the existing building and rebuilding a state-of-the-art facility. I also met with Eliott Landon shortly after that to see if I could in any way influence the "energy" aspects of the project. I also encouraged the significant use of natural lighting and non-toxic construction and referenced the work of "Innovative Design". Perhaps we can set up a meeting with Dan Kail next week to discuss those aspects and how we might be able to integrate them into the specifications.

By the time they actually start construction perhaps solar-hydrogen fuel cells will be practical. As you know, one of the architects that made an early proposal recommended a 50kW PV skylight over the cafeteria. I believe it was well received. Money is always an issue but I'm sure we could find grant. CL&P also has programs for energy efficiency upgrades.

John Rountree

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