Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

School Board reviews plans for Barlow, Woodland construction

A new cafetorium at Barlow School was one of two projects reviewed by the BOE.
Plans for new construction expanding Plainfield's Barlow and Woodland elementary schools were reviewed by the Board of Ed at its work/study meeting Tuesday evening at the PHS conference room.

George Jones, principal with Johnson Jones Architects, presented an overview of plans to add new cafetoriums to the two schools and modify the existing cafeteria/gym spaces to enlarge and improve them, turning them into regulation elementary schools gymnasiums.

The plans had been shelved pending funding by the state, and are being dusted off as a result of monies granted by the Christie administration to the school district. While Gov. Christie had opined that Districts might want to consider granting some tax relief to residents, Board member Wilma Campbell seems to be the only one that wanted to consider that option.


The second project would add a new cafetorium to Woodland School.
According to Jones, the two projects would come in at about $5.9 million ($3.2 million for Barlow, $2.7 million for Woodland) and construction could begin as early as June 2012, with an expected 12-15 month completion timeframe.

Two resolutions will appear on the Board's business meeting agenda, approving already developed 'educational specifications' required by the state for the proposed construction and authorizing their submission to the Department of Education for review and approval.

With those approvals in hand, the construction proposals would then have to be taken up and approved by Plainfield's Planning Board before construction could actually get under way.

Among the issues brought up by Board members during the review were the lack of sufficient parking at Barlow School in the case of special events at the school. There is said to be just enough parking for staff; when parents or guests attend an event, they must struggle to find parking on the streets, which are already full due to the high concentration of apartment complexes in the neighborhood.

When asked about putting parking in the 'front' yard between East Front Street and the school building, Mr. Jones offered that the Board could bring the matter up but that the Planning Board was likely to frown on it. Expansion of the existing lot on the Green Brook side of the building is constrained because of floodplain considerations.

Neither of these issues are a problem at the Woodland school, which is part of a very large city block completely occupied by Woodland and Maxson schools and associated play and sports areas.

Johnson Jones, founded in 1969, has a long relationship with Plainfield and the school district, which Jones illustrated with a slide show including the following projects --

  • The Plainfield Community Health Center
  • Tower West Senior Residence (by Presbyterian Homes)
  • PHS replacement windows project
  • 1996 Referendum bonding school projects
  • Washington Community School
  • Two 'temporary' elementary schools at the National Starch HQ site
  • Clinton School expansion
  • New Middle School (South Second Street; project abandoned)
  • Cook School expansion (plans completed, but SDA ran out of money)
When asked whether jobs on the two projects would be open to Plainfielders, Jones responded that their contracts routinely contain affirmative action language that was developed by the City of Plainfield.

The Board, of course, would award the contracts based on public bidding and would have to abide by the state's guidelines.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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