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Housing Authority site off the table for new high school

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  One of the three sites that have been discussed as the home of a new Revere High School is out, but a new option to build on the existing high school site could open up more space for a new building without the need to take any land by eminent domain. Last month, the Revere Housing Authority voted against allowing a new high school project on RHA property bounded by Constitution and Cushman Avenues.

  That leaves two viable site options for the Revere High School Building Committee: the former Wonderland Park and the current high school site. The School Building Committee is expected to make a final determination on a site configuration sometime in February.

  At last Friday’s weekly meeting of the School Building Committee, the project design team discussed the viability of the options at Wonderland, as well as presenting initial plans for a third option at the current high school site. All the versions of the high school construction plan on the current site involve building the new school on the Erricola Park portion of the property, then replicating the fields on the site of the current building. Previous to Friday’s meeting, two options for the Erricola Park relocation were on the table.

  According to Robert Bell from architect Perkins Eastman, there are inherent challenges with the two options. The version with no takings of nearby land would make a tight squeeze of the new high school, while the expanded version of the Erricola Park option would necessitate the taking of about 15 properties near the school. “We were hearing from the abutters the last few weeks their concerns, and we know that the existing site on its own with the culvert as a constraint really squeezes the building into an uncomfortable tightness,” said Bell. “We know that with Wonderland, there is a land purchase there, and there’s a concern about lost tax revenue as well as walkability.”

  Over the past few weeks, Bell said, designers have been looking at options for moving the existing culvert on the site, giving more room for a cohesive, campus-feel high school building without it being squeezed into a smaller footprint. However, moving the culvert would come with additional expenses and could stretch out the construction schedule.

  “Money and time,” said Brian Dakin of owner’s project manager LEFTFIELD when asked about the biggest challenges with moving the culvert. “The two biggest things about that are going to be an enabling phase to reroute the culvert … Previously, we were planning on working around the culvert, so there is also going to be a cost premium to reroute the culvert.” Moving the culvert could also create some issues with temporary parking while the construction is phased in on the site, Dakin said.

  “This is version one of this plan, and it’s got a lot of room to grow and change,” said Bell. “I think the end result is, for the student experience and the community experience that you don’t have a building sitting in a parking lot; you have a building sitting in green space, so it is going to feel a lot more like a campus.”

  Dakin asked the members of the School Building Committee to give a closer review over the next week or two to the new option that reroutes the culvert. He said the project team feels the new option is superior in many ways to the previous options at the high school site, and said he would like to see if there is a consensus with the School Building Committee to further develop the new option. In December, Dakin said, the project team will be finalizing possible budgets for all the building options still on the table in preparation for the School Building Committee to make a final determination in February.

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