School officials hosted a meeting about the Eliot Upper School extension project and the ongoing construction at the site of the former North Bennet Street School in Boston’s North End. Community members heard a presentation from the architecture firm Finegold Alexander + Associates. Nancy Goodwin, the lead architect for the project, explained that the school will go through a complete transformation. A cafeteria, large multipurpose space, a media room and computer labs will be on the ground floor. Twenty-one classrooms on three floors will be built around a central hallway in the middle of the building. New roof, new elevator and new windows will also be part of the renovation.
The project team, represented by Brian Melia, talked about how the construction started about a month ago and is progressing as planned. The building will be completely gutted and will receive a new steel frame to support the floors. Only the exterior of the building will stay relatively the same, however extensive repairs to the brick wall will give it a “nice, uniform look.” The project will last about 23 month in total and the initial phase of gutting the building will be completed around the Spring 2015.
Many abutters of the building were present and some expressed concerns about the construction, especially regarding asbestos removal. They also complained about the noise that the construction generates. Mr. Melia explained that the asbestos removal is contained inside the building and it is constantly monitored. Given that it is in an enclosed space, there is no danger to the public. The project manager vowed to make every effort to comply with regulations and with the etiquette of being a good neighbor.
The project team also has explained that during the construction a traffic-management plan is in place. Parking will be severely limited around the property and the ongoing deliveries will impact the sidewalks and occasionally the street as well. There will be expected street closures during utility work on the three streets surrounding the building. Also during the spring and summer months, the masonry work will occupy much of the sidewalks around the property.
Responding to questions, Mr. Melia, assured the audience that there will be more timely communication forthcoming. Additional flyers around the property and at the Nazarro Center will provide information about the project.
The Property and Construction Management office also has a permanent presence at the building site every day. That designated person is John Mansfield and he is available for questions or comments at 617-592-0243.