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
notified of upcoming public meetings contact Jackie Fuchs at the School
Building Committee office on 136 Riverside Avenue:
203-341-2450 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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heads the Staples Sub-committee and can be reached at 203-226-5491 or email@example.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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.