Mallett School project receives unanimous support at straw poll

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FARMINGTON – A plan for a new 60,000 square foot school on the campus of the current W.G. Mallett School received unanimous support at a meeting Thursday evening. The next step is to have the plan reviewed by the state Department of Education.

64 people voted in favor of the plan, which was presented in 3-dimensional detail through an architecture design program. The building committee, which has had to react to a variety of challenges presented along the path to the presented concept, was out in force.

“This is an exciting night for the building committee,” Committee Chair Greg Webber said.

The plan, which was referred affectionately by lead architect Stephen Blatt as “the dog,” would consist of a two-floor facility. The school would be accessible by non-staff only through a single entrance, monitored by the administrative office. The gymnasium, cafeteria and kitchen facilities would be grouped near that entrance. During after-hours events, they could be sealed off from the rest of the school.

Architect Stephen Blatt points out the advantages of a redesigned Mallett School.

“The public uses for the school are in a single area,” Blatt said, “with doors you could lock off the rest of the building.”

The cafeteria, a separate room from the gym unlike the current school, will have large windows and glass walls to be seen as welcoming as possible for students. The “main street” of the school is also on the first floor; art room, computer room, music room, library. Kindergartners and a pre-kindergartner program, if implemented, would have rooms on the first floor as well.

Special education students, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders would all be on the second floor. Blatt noted that the recessed second floor was set back away from the walls of the first floor, “pushing it further back in the horizon,” breaking up the building and making it seem smaller when viewed from a low vantage point.

Each classroom will have a bathroom, sink and drinking fountain within the actual room, preventing the need for constant hall passes.

Blatt noted that the building’s design utilized “daylight harvesting” methods to bring natural light into the classrooms whenever possible, saving money on energy.

“This will be an extraordinarily green and sustainable school,” he said.

The building will almost entirely be crafted out of red, Maine brick, with the flat, slightly-pitched roofs being made out of a rubber membrane. The committee is still hoping that the state will agree to a green roof being built above the cafeteria, which would consist of a living, growing carpet of plant life designed to reduce the need for storm-water treatment.

Many of the questions asked by the public prior to the vote dealt with parking. The site utilizes a bus loop in front of the entrance, off of Middle Street, and a line of parent drop-off spots off of a vehicle route which enters off of Middle and exits onto Quebec Street.

“There is a lot more parking on this site than the current site,” Assistant Superintendent Susan Pratt said, “two or three-fold more.”

The plan now will move to the state level, after some final tweaks by the committee. State approval of the project could set up a referendum vote on whether or not to build a new school, tentatively scheduled for Nov. 20.

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