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Fairfield Waits For Information On Riverfield School Upgrade

This artists' rendition depicts how Riverfield's front entrance could look if Fairfield's government approves the proposed renovations at the school.
This artists' rendition depicts how Riverfield's front entrance could look if Fairfield's government approves the proposed renovations at the school. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Families at Fairfield’s Riverfield School will have to wait a bit longer to see whether the school's proposed $15 million renovation will move forward.

The Board of Selectmen was scheduled to vote on the expansion plan Wednesday night. But it decided to take no action on the plan, with members delaying the vote until they get more information.

“Let’s have a fuller discussion the next time this comes back,” First Selectman Michael Tetreau said.

The town plans to add space to Riverfield to get rid of the portable classrooms that have been on the Mill Plain Road campus since 1995 and to account for expected rises in enrollment. The project would also change the front entrance for better security, make some bathrooms handicap-accessible and add fire sprinklers, new alarms and improve ventilation.

In December, the Riverfield Building Committee pitched a plan that would have replaced the current annex with a new two-story addition. But after testing the soil near the annex and finding it would need remediation, the planners decided to change their plan to instead add a smaller addition near the site of the portable classrooms. The proposal would still cost $15.1 million.

The building committee offered two changes that would bring the amount down to about $13.9 million. That proposal would make plans to install air conditioning throughout the school and expand the gymnasium “add-alternates,” which would only be done if money was left over in the project’s budget.

“The only way we can get [the cost] down is to change the scope,” building committee chair Tom Quinn said Wednesday.

For the new proposal to go through, the Board of Education would need to change its educational specifications for the project. The selectmen decided Wednesday that they wanted to wait to vote until after the school board approved the change and until they received more information about the proposed changes.

Quinn asked the Board of Selectmen to make its decision quickly. The committee expects to save about $500,000 by starting the project a year ahead of schedule in June 2014.

The Board of Selectmen’s next meeting is April 2, before the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting would be able to meet next to give approval. But Tetreau said he would consider holding a special meeting to vote on the issue.

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