Memorial Boulevard school, cultural center projects on track

Published on Friday, 12 January 2018 22:17
Written by Lorenzo Burgio


BRISTOL - Plans for the former Memorial Boulevard school are on track, and the cultural center project will continue as the city and Board of Education await approval of state funding.

The school board previously applied for state funding through the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services’ Office of School Construction Grants, for the proposed Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Magnet School. The school is expected to open in 2021-22.

“The application is considered complete,” said Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. She said the city expects to hear back about the state funding at the end of February or March 2018.

The next step is for the city to appropriate, and bond, about $54 million, the full amount for the school project, at the Board of Finance Meeting on Jan. 23.

This is because a resolution in the full amount of the school project, that notes the funds are for renovations, is required for the state funding, she said.

The roughly $13 million that the finance board appropriated, and bonded on July 25, 2017, for phase one of the Memorial Boulevard Cultural Center project is part of the new appropriation, and is the city’s share for the school project, she said.

“So the city’s share was handled,” Zoppo-Sassu said. It is expected that he state funding will make up the difference between the previous appropriation and the new appropriation, she added.

After the appropriation is made and bonded, it will be sent to the state, which has funds bonded for school building projects, she said. Those funds can’t move out of their subscribed use, she said.

As the city and school board await approval for the state funding, the Memorial Boulevard Building Committee is continuing with the plan for the cultural center. They are discussing how to save time with the school project if it comes to fruition.

Frank Stawski, committee chairman, explained that the necessary work and upgrades on the building systems - heating, cooling, electrical, fire and plumbing - can occur in the meantime.

The work and upgrades were identified in the building program that was approved during the Jan. 11 committee meeting.

The building program was designed by Quisenberry Arcari Malik Architecture, a planning and interior design firm of Farmington. They have worked with the committee since 2015.

The program consolidated all theater, floor and engineering narratives and designs for the cultural center. It also identified necessary work and upgrades to the building systems, according to the program that is on the city’s website.

Those building systems are just extensions of the rest of the building that needs the same work, and will benefit the school project if it comes to fruition, Stawski said.

“If the school project does go forward, that’s a significantly different project and I think it would be under the governance of the school board,” said Roger Rousseau, the city’s purchasing agent. “In which case, the work that (the design firm) have done up until now, has been just another helpful resource for the next firm that does the designs.”

John Smith, committee member, proposed putting out requests for purchase and possibly interview architects for that project to save time in the school project process.

“I would hate to get to March, and then we use another two months interviewing architects,” he said. “We can save a couple months in the process.”

The city can start the process, but is not allowed to contract any firms until the funding is in order, Rousseau said.

Additionally, Stawski said it would be beneficial to begin a dialogue between the committee and the Memorial Boulevard Intradistrict Arts Magnet School Building Committee that will focus on the school project.

The school building committee is formed, but has not met because the intent was to wait for the state funding, Stawski said. He recommended the two committees meet to begin to lay groundwork and start the process.

Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-973-5088 or by email at

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Friday, 12 January 2018 22:17. Updated: Friday, 12 January 2018 22:19.