New-look Stratford High School being planned

Renovations will include west wing for classes, larger gym, athletic field

By Melvin Mason

Developed plans for renovating Stratford High School will make it a much larger building with two wings, a larger gymnasium and a new physical education and practice field on the main campus.

The Town Council voted Monday to approve the selection of the SHS renovation design known as Option 17. The plan involves demolishing the existing 1925 SHS building, which faces North Parade Street, in an effort to create a more efficient building and site design.

The plan will call for a second wing of the school to be built on the west side of King Street that will connect to the main building through an enclosed bridge over King Street and the creation of an athletic field that is half the size of a football field on the site of an existing parking lot. The west wing will be where 95% of all the high school’s classes will be, said Richard Snedeker, project manager for CREC Construction Services. The eastern side will be the location of a larger gymnasium to fit as many as are the gym at Bunnell High School, a new auditorium and a school restaurant.

Officials from CREC and Antinozzi Associate joined Alan Llewelyn, chairman of the SHS Renovation Subcommittee, in explaining the proposed changes to the Town Council.

Snedeker said the changes were made because they needed more space to accommodate the things they needed.

“It resulted in a larger building that what we originally proposed,” Snedeker said. The original renovation plan recommended in February was too small at 219,000 square feet. Option 17 will increase the SHS footprint to 236,000 square feet.

Snedeker said Antinozzi had come up with 16 other plans that maintained the 1925 building. A plan to remove it “created a much more efficient design,” he said, and “it will be easier to construct as far as sequencing and engineering go.”

The renovations will make for a more expensive project as Option 17 will cost $108.9 million to build, compared to the $103.3 million expense for the previously recommended plan.

But under a new grant application, the state will pick up at least 60% of the expense and the town will have to pay $45.49 million. The previously recommended plan would cost Stratford $62 million.

Llewelyn said Monday the new plan would give Stratford High “a state-of-the-art, post-millennial, Common Core capable” facility.  But there are still more tweaks that can be made, saying the architects and committee are still in “design mode.”

The council’s approval means the renovation subcommittee can be a bit more definitive in developing their plans. “Now we can start putting hard lines on drawings versus Crayolaing right now,” he said.

The Council also voted to allow the SHS design process to continue until July 20, 2016 without state funding. Snedeker said Thursday that the state had originally asked the renovation subcommittee to amend its grant application. However, they were told it would be better to apply again and be funded again in the next fiscal year. While the town does not have a grant now, Snedeker said he expects the town will have a grant to pay for the work by June 30, 2016.

Snedeker added that the $45.49 million cost is the worst-case scenario and Stratford may pay less than that.

If everything proceeds as planned, construction would start in November 2016.