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Council updated on Wonderland site for new high school

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  Earlier this month, the City Council approved a plan to borrow $29.5 million to acquire Wonderland Race Track property, which is the preferred site for the city’s new high school.

  This week, Brian Dakin from Left Field, the general manager for the construction project, was at the council meeting with an update.

  “We’ve been talking about this project for years and we’re only at the conclusion of the schematic design phase,” said Dakin adding that design development would continue for another year, year and a half.

  But Dakin stressed that site access had been secured and consultants were working with city engineers on surveys, geotechnical assessments and environmental assessments which Dakin said would set up the future of the project development.

  Dakin acknowledged there are challenges and restrictions with the Wonderland site that could ultimately drive design decisions. The two most significant challenges are the Eastern County Ditch, which runs along the Wonderland parking lot and the old dog track which may now be classified as wetlands.

  “It will take probably to the middle of next year to know,” said Dakin who showed slides of how those site drawbacks would affect the building design.

  But the schematic design that Dakin presented was breathtaking and true to the input from community focus groups. The current design, which Dakin continually stressed would likely evolve, includes large areas of open space infused with smaller spaces included for special groups and uses, infused with natural light. A four-story academic wing is designed as a wave finished in blues and greens which reflects the colors and textures of the ocean and the beach, an idea that many in the community and student focus groups felt fit Revere.

  The city is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) which picks up a significant amount of the cost of new school buildings and major repairs. The MSBA has moved the Revere High project into the schematic design phase which involves plans for stormwater management, traffic mitigation, construction details, building layout materials and design but plans must be submitted by Dec. 18. The MSBA will review the design plans which present the scope and schedule of the project as well as cost estimates.

  The MSBA will respond with a proposed agreement of the amount it will pay for the building that has been estimated to cost $391 million. The MSBA share of the cost has been estimated at $154 million, leaving the remaining $236 million in costs to Revere.

  Dakin promised city councilors an update on costs of the building in two weeks but warned that it will be more that $391 million.

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