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Officials tour, discuss WES

March 28, 2011

NORTH KINGSTOWN –Early Saturday morning, members of the North Kingstown Facilities Man-agement and Planning Subcommittee along with members of the public, Town Council and School Committee, toured the former Wickford Elementary School building, 99 Phillips St., to get a better un-derstanding of the proposed renovations as detailed in the recent Rowse Report.
On Nov. 8, 2010, the Town Council authorized Edward Rowse Architects of Providence, to complete a conceptual study on the building to determine the feasibility and cost associated with the conversion into the town and school administration building. It was completed at the end of January and presented to the Town Council in early February.
The study included current building codes, age and life cycle of various components such as mechani-cal and electrical; lighting; fire protection; plumbing; waste water; windows; roofing and flooring.
“The study was based on two reports that identified department space needs for both the town and school,” said Public Works Director Phil Bergeron. “This was just a study and in no way suggests a final design or building layout.”
The school department specified they would need space to accommodate 12 departments, 26 em-ployees, storage space and meeting space, for a total of 9,000 square feet.
The town would need space for eight departments, 31 employees, storage space and meeting space.
Option one would cost $7,423,427 and the second would cost $6,993,595, both for renovations that include concrete, masonry, carpentry, some demolition, mechanical and electrical.
In both options, a small entrance would be built on the western side of the school (portion facing the playground) which would include an elevator to access all three floors. Jim Partridge from Rowse Archi-tects said the only difference between the two options is the entrance would be bigger in option one.
But while touring the building Saturday, many felt that location for the elevator should be relocated to the back of the building, that way it could access all three levels with no additional construction. The lo-cation Rowse picked includes interior stairs leading to the basement, if an elevator was to be con-structed, additional construction would be need to make that space handicap accessible, thus leading to more expenses.
Both options call for the removal of all the windows, something that didn’t sit well with some mem-bers.
“There’s no need to replace all the windows. The framing is still in great shape,” said Subcommittee member James Grundy. “We just need to replace the glass and caulking. There’s no reason we need to spend half a million dollars on window replacement.”
Throughout the school, all the classrooms have wall to wall carpet totaling 18,701 square feet. In the Rowse report, it calls for removing all of it at a cost of $7,480.
Many thought the carpet was in great shape with minimal staining and all it really would need is a good cleaning.
The 88 interior doors are currently 36 inches which comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and are still very much structurally sound. The report calls for removal and installing all new doors and frames.
The boy’s and girl’s bathrooms are all in good shape and all that’s needed is a good clean-up and some new fixtures. The second floor boy’s bathroom has a leak in the roof and has caused some minor wall damage that would need to be fixed.
Located in the basement was the cafeteria/auditorium, which would is planned to be used as a common meeting place for meetings and local events. It can accommodate between 100 to 125 people and is still in great condition. The study calls for keeping the stage, which the various committees, councils and boards would use.
“This is a remodel job not a construction job,” said School Committee Chair Richard Welch. “Ob-viously, there’s some major construction that needs to be done, but overall, many aspects to this building can be salvaged.”
Lining the halls of the three floors are cement squares made by the thousands of children who attended the school, depicting local scenes, school-related pictures and more. Town Council President Elizabeth Dolan is urging that those be saved and displayed somewhere.
The plan now is to send Rowse a more detailed scope of needs and wants and have them come back with more realistic numbers.
“We understand major projects need to be done,” said Grundy. “We know there’s some mold issues, leaks and exterior things. There are plans for $50,000 curbing construction outside the building. It’s nice but not necessary.”
The Subcommittee also wants to push consolidating many of the areas in the building. They feel there’s no sharing of space between the two departments. There are multiple conference and storage rooms that can be shared, with some of the departments not needing all the space given to them.
“We can’t continue to separate the two organizations. We’re not accomplishing anything,” said Grun-dy.

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