The Andover High School Building Committee has reduced the cost of a proposed, new school by more than 6 percent — for now.

The committee has yet to consider potential upgrades which could add as much as $59.1 million to the project, including a $41.8 million geothermal heating system and $1.3 million to light an athletic fields. The committee could also opt for a $17 million heat pump instead of the geothermal heating system. Joe DeSantis of project manager PMA Consultants noted that the figures reviewed last week do not include rebates and lower maintenance and operation cost savings

The price could also fluctuate during the yet-to-be-funded schematic design, which will provide a more accurate price cost. Based on the preliminary revisions to the budget the building committee reviewed last week, the new estimate is $451.5 million, down $29.4 million, or 6.5 percent, from the earlier estimate of $480.9 million.

The reductions cut 22,350 gross square feet from the design’s original gross square footage of 286,008.

“Every number that you’re going to see is a rough magnitude cost estimate from feasibility study,” DeSantis said before reviewing the updated estimates at last week’s building committee meeting. “The intent is not to say this is what your total project budget is using these figures. That’s what we do once we get through schematic design, and we get a much more accurate estimate.”

The committee has already rejected additions that would have raised the project’s cost by $76.4 million:

  • $43.1 million for a parking garage
  • $4.7 million for a skate park
  • $5.1 million to light athletic fields
  • $17.3 million for direct ownership of solar panels on the school.

PMA Consultants included disclaimers on each slide and committee members stressed at last week’s meeting the costs are rough estimates.

“I just want to make sure that we’re looking at these numbers in the right light, because I don’t want anybody running and communicating that we have a new revised number, because that’s not the case,” building committee member Shannon Scully said. “We’re making decisions the best we can, based on the best available data, but there’s nothing that is set in stone at this point because that’s just not what we’re capable of doing in this process.

Several Andover residents are pushing back on the proposal, which could add more than 20 percent to residential property tax bills. Judy Wilson told the committee how the high cost of housing and taxes in Andover was keeping her 33-year-old daughter, who graduated from AHS in 2008, from living in Town.

“My house on Central Street is a modest house…if my daughter inherits it when I die, which is the plan, hopefully I don’t want you guys to have driven up our taxes so much that she can’t afford to pay the taxes,” Wilson said. “If [my daughter] wanted to have a kid, could she afford it? No, she couldn’t even afford daycare. So all I’m asking all of you is to please stop your wishlist. Please stop playing HDTV…They’re not going to be able to come back and have their kids go to the school.”

Photo: Andover resident Judy Wilson speaks in opposition of the proposal to build a new Andover High School (Screenshot/Andover TV)

2 thoughts on “Cost For New AHS Drops 6.5% — For Now”
  1. Still, the AHSBC proposal is so complex, expensive, and unnecessary when there are several alternatives that haven’t been earnestly explored.

    Even if a new school is truly the only way, which it isn’t, build an economical rectangle instead of this architectural dalliance. Recently visited Concord-Carlisle HS, opened about eight years ago, consistently one of the top performing high schools in the state, and award winner for educational cost effectiveness. It’s a rectangle, simple, practical, energy-efficient, and easy to traverse.

    Andover needs to more fully develop a reasonable middle-ground approach and there are many options when thinking flexibly and creatively rather than building a fancy monolith for an outdated all-in-one model.

  2. BTW, the AHSBC won’t save anything by “rejecting” the ~$5M skate park; it’s just deceitful presentation. A skate park already exists on the site and has been there for many years. The AHSBC still plans to destroy it to facilitate building per the proposed plan. The $5M they have “rejected” was to rebuild the skate park in another location on the site, but now they are “saving” this $5M by not rebuilding at all and leaving Town youth without a skate park. Most likely the Town, not the AHSBC, will propose separate ~$5M spending to build a replacement skate park somewhere else in Town. So, if building a new HS as proposed, taxpayers will likely still end up paying the $5M.

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