EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


October 30, 2013

Haverhill Councilor's proposal could save city, taxpayers millions

Requires parts of new Hunking School to be built off site


But, Fiorentini noted that the Massachusetts School Building Authority has not approved this method of construction for a school building in the state.

“We’d be a trendsetter,” Fiorentini said.

LePage’s suggestion drew the support of most councilors, including Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien, who said the city owes it to taxpayers to explore every option to save money.

“If we can’t get the community behind this, it will fall to defeat,” she said, referring to a plan to ask taxpayers to vote to extend the debt exclusions for the four elementary schools that were built in order to fund a new Hunking School.

Council President Robert Scatamacchia expressed concerns for a possible lack of oversight if pieces of the building are built out of state.

“I think everything should be done on site,” Scatamacchia said.

Councilor John Michitson said the city should be looking to reduce the cost of a new Hunking if it can, but not if it means reducing the quality of a new school.

“All we are asking for is a professional comparison of proposals,” Michitson said in reference to methods of construction. “I think it’s that simple.”

LePage talked about examples of off-site construction, including one in New York City that is being developed by Forest City, the same real estate development firm that created the Hamel Mill Lofts on Essex Street.

He said this method of construction equals or exceeds specifications called for under on-site construction methods.

Councilor William Macek supported the idea of looking into off-site construction as a possible method for building a new Hunking School.

“Any fear of the word modular needs to be rethought,” Macek said.

City Councilor William Ryan was against the idea, saying the state has never approved this method of construction. Ryan said he wants a new Hunking built on site in a traditional manner.

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