Construction of Fisher Hill addition in Orange on schedule, under budget

  • The new three-story addition to Fisher Hill Elementary School is taking shape in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The new three-story addition to Fisher Hill Elementary School is taking shape in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The new three-story addition ties into the existing Fisher Hill School in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Martin Goulet of Hill International Inc., the company managing the project on behalf of the town, stands in what will be the new first-floor lobby to Fisher Hill Elementary School in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The new three-story addition ties into the existing Fisher Hill Elementary School in Orange. Dexter Park Innovation School in the background at right will be demolished when the new addition is finished. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/18/2022 2:35:28 PM
Modified: 5/18/2022 2:33:41 PM

ORANGE — Construction of the new Fisher Hill Elementary School is reportedly on schedule and under budget, with students set to move into the roughly 50,000-square-foot addition in January.

Martin Goulet of Hill International Inc., the company managing the project on behalf of the town, noted the current school building will be renovated in time to be reopened to students in the fall of 2023.

“We’re about 30% done with construction,” Goulet said on site Tuesday afternoon while youngsters ran around nearby during recess. “The addition … is being built now. The structure is complete, and they’re doing the exterior walls and the roofing as we speak — and putting the mechanicals on the inside, the plumbing and sprinkler and electrical. That’s all being built on the inside.”

Dexter Park Innovation School is set to be demolished once the Fisher Hill addition is complete. All Orange elementary school students will be moved into the expanded and renovated 97,000-square-foot building, which is expected to serve Orange’s educational needs for at least 50 years.

Dexter Park was built in 1951 and the Massachusetts School Building Authority, a quasi-independent government authority, designated it a “Category 4” school, its lowest rating, in 2006. Voters approved funding in 2018 for a feasibility study concerning the Dexter Park issue and to come up with options to repair or replace it.

Goulet said the final product will feature 32 classrooms between the current building and the addition, a new entrance, and a learning deck outside the school’s media center and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classrooms. He added the new entrance will have unbreakable School Guard Glass windows to protect students and staff members against those who would do them harm. A door buzzer entry system will be built into the new structure, whereas existing schools have had to be retrofitted for that technology. The gymnasium will also be 30 feet bigger.

The project’s general contractor is J&J Contractors Inc. of North Billerica, which Goulet said has hired about 12 subcontractors. Goulet said the construction cost is $44 million and the total project cost is $57 million. Workers officially broke ground on the project in October.

Bruce Scherer, chair of the Orange School Building Committee, said a pollinator meadow will replace Dexter Park Innovation School.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” he said.

Scherer said everyone who has worked alongside J&J Contractors has given the company “very high marks.”

“I’ve never built a school before but I certainly can recognize quality construction work when I see it,” he said. “Everybody’s anxiously looking forward to this new school.”

He also said the building will have a ventilation system that is “second only to a hospital.”

Scherer mentioned there is a plan to install a 224-kilowatt solar array on the roof, and the town is pursuing grant opportunities, with an application for one due in early June.

Goulet explained a construction exit that leads from the work site down to North Main Street will be used by school buses once construction is complete. Having worked in construction for 45 years, Goulet mentioned he plans to retire when the Fisher Hill project wraps up.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.