By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING – You may not need a helicopter to catch a high school soccer or football game next fall, after all.
“A reasonable amount” of parking spaces may be available during the fall season, members of the School Committee said last week, after earlier raising the alarm that a parking crunch loomed.
“There’s no promises but I can say the administration and the principals on the building project are doing everything they can to try to find some parking for the fall season,” said school board member Mel Webster. “There are no guarantees,” but Supt. of Schools Jon Bernard has been meeting with the construction company and project manager to address the situation, Webster added. “They’re working hard to come up with a plan where we will have some parking next fall.”
Supt. of Schools Jon Bernard credited school board member Cliff Bowers for raising the early alarm. “To not have any parking in the existing middle school parking lot is unacceptable,” Bernard said.
Bernard said there have been meetings with Manafort Construction Co. who are understanding of the town’s dilemma and they were scheduled to review a plan that might give Manafort earlier access to the site so that can do more work earlier in June rather than late in the month. “It’s very fair to say that there will be some parking available and more than we had first anticipated.”
Elsewhere, progress at the new middle school is coming along very well, said Supt. Bernard. The taping and joint compounding of E and F buildings is about 90 percent complete and moving along rapidly. The flooring is complete in the middle school second story and the ceiling tiles and student lockers are now being installed. Mill work is 90 percent complete in the two¬story building, he said. The air handling units and control pretesting are now underway and landscaping the surrounding area of the front of the school with bituminous sidewalks, concrete and granite curbing and handicapped ramps changes almost daily.
Site work has resumed at the team building down by the Arthur Kenney Turf field and Bernard predicted the building will be available to teams as early as Aug. 14, “or thereabouts” prior to the double sessions for fall sports. Drainage is currently being installed for the high school tennis courts, which is on schedule. Paving will be done in June.
“Changes are taking place very rapidly,” said Bernard. “It’s fun to watch.”