Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A New Morton Middle School.

So the City Council has heard the plans for the new Joan M. Menard Middle School. Oh…hold on…that was the other mayor! So, the council heard plans for the new Morton Middle School, apparently we're not going to have some huge campaign to save the existing building, which is a good thing. I'm all for historic preservation but sometimes you have to let go and embrace something new. In Fall River that has never been a problem before and we often have taken the wrecking ball to things we SHOULD have saved but for a variety of reasons this seems like the right decision.

We're already getting some warning that some construction details won't be covered under the 80% state reimbursement. This includes the cafeteria and auditorium. This was a big uproar during the construction of the new Kuss and I'm willing to bet will somehow become a news story when the new Morton gets close to completion. If the two were combined, they would be reimbursed at the 80% rate. So, why not combine them? It's a good question and I'll bet you the big easy answer will be because all the other middle schools have separate facilities and the new Kuss got a nice new auditorium so of course the new Morton needs one too. Well personally that is a load of bull. Let's look into saving some money and at least explore what a combined facility would look like. However that said, I have been in the new auditorium at the Kuss and it is truly spectacular, if the combined facility looks second rate we should pony up the extra money and invest in something that will benefit the kids and the community. Originally there was some debate about what type of seats to put in the Kuss auditorium, with some advocating for solid plastic seats that would be long lasting, more vandal resistant. In the end the powers that be felt that nicer seats were warranted for a facility that the community may wish to utilize. I somewhat regret that decision. Durfee has a really nice auditorium, one that is superior to several other area high schools, but every time I go in there I think what a shame to see so many seats in less than pristine condition. The Durfee Auditorium could and should play host to several events but gee, we'd have to do something about those seats. OK, it's a pet peeve, but the first time I was in the new Kuss one of my first thoughts was 'how long before this looks like Durfee's.
I'm somewhat surprised to see the new school will hold 800 students. Do we really need a school that big? Right now none of the middle schools have close to that many students. The Kuss has the most, at 596 students. It's true that the elementary grades have more students enrolled than the middle schools, so maybe we're trending up. I just hope we're not building bigger than we need.
I also wonder why when we started building these schools we didn't draw up one set of plans that would work for all sights? I understand different lot sizes and stuff, but I think it would still have been plausible to come up with a footprint that would work on all lots. Maybe one set of plans for elementary schools and one set for the Kuss and Morton. Other communities have used existing plans as a way to save money. Why not us?
I have to chuckle, the council expresses some concern about the number of schools that were built that immediately had leaking roofs only to have the builders, the Mt. Vernon Group confirm that 3 schools did indeed have roof issues. Ken Pacheco countered that the city had "very good success" dealing with the Mt. Vernon Group, noting they had built 7 schools in the city. Seven schools and 4 didn't leak? That's good success, 4 out of 7? Where? In baseball?
Then of course there is the parking issue with 2 options discussed. The city could tear down the Carrol School which is about a block away or take some of the land from North Park! Is there really thought that taking land for North Park is an option? Hopefully the council is smart enough to leave the park alone. Hell the school is only a block away and that's a pretty reasonable walk, just ask Kenny Fiola!


Anonymous said...

Seven buildings done by the same group, Mt. Vernon?...hmmmm... Lefty, I think you just buried the lead!

Found a great new blog about Fall River:

You'll like the analysis of the current Bio-Tech vs. Destination Casino episode and the role the City pols have taken.

Lefty said...

From looking at their site, it seems that Mt. Vernon specializes in schools. So I'm not sure it's much of a lead. I do think the 3 leaking roofs and other issues that have popped up, i.e. mold deserve serious mention.

Anonymous said...

What do architects have to do with leaky roofs unless you are claiming they drew a faulty roof? More likely it was cheap materials that were used on the roofs or incompetent roofers that didn't install expensive materials to the manufacturer's specifications. Or maybe it was bad materials that were installed badly further exacerbating the situation. At any rate, I watched the meetings and I think some of the councilors were just going for cheap points by attacking the architects. Gotta have a scapegoat right? Just put someone up on the roof to supervise the roof work. Case closed. I don't think half or more of our council or the public even know what architects do for a living and I'm not one but I do have more than a 9th grade education, something that I don't suspect all these councilors can say.