Around 450 parking spaces are planned.
Concerns for security are also accounted for, according to DiNisco. Three secure entrances to the building are remotely controlled and monitored by a closed-circuit camera.
It’s a project that takes care of the environment, as well.
“We will be looking at ways to capture roof runoff for irrigation,” DiNisco said.
That benefits the city, he said, by decreasing the flood risk downtown. The roof is also geared to support solar panels.
While the board seemed pleased by what they saw, member Ed Charest questioned why the city would build a school for 1,340 students when it currently has 1,341 kids in the middle school.
“You’re not anticipating any increase in the population?” he asked.
“You’re starting on a decline now as far as enrollment,” said DiNisco aide Donna DiNisco-Crawford.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Charest said. “You know the old saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’”
“We had to fight to get the 1,340,” Ken DeNisco said. “(The state) did their own analysis. It’s set in stone.”
Current Higgins Principal Todd Bucey explained that the figure mainly applies to lockers. As there are a number of spaces available for special classes in a pinch, the school could withstand an expanding population.
Councilor Osborne was clearly unhappy to hear that the state had decreed that it could not pay for the school auditorium, determining that it does not address the educational needs of the school.
Bettencourt explained that he wanted the auditorium included anyway, at city expense, to serve students active in the performing arts, as well as residents. It will seat 500 people — in other words, one grade at a time. The state did agree to pay for the stage.
“So the show can go on,” Osborne said, “we just can’t watch it.”