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Aldermen: Newton North project isn't set in concrete ... yet

Posted by Ralph Ranalli February 11, 2008 10:47 AM

NEWTON

Even as construction crews prepare to pour the first concrete next week for a new Newton North High School, a majority of aldermen are asking Mayor David B. Cohen to "pause, assess, and right this project" by working with state officials to rein in the $186 million plan.

Several members of the Board of Aldermen are sponsoring a resolution that asks the mayor to halt installation of the project's concrete foundations until the board approves a financing plan based on the yet-to-be-determined final project price, and until the board receives a review of the project and its financing from state Treasurer Tim Cahill. A number of aldermen and residents are floating their own scaled-down proposals for replacing the current Newton North.

Seemingly under fire from all sides, Cohen is holding fast, saying not only that the foundation work should proceed on schedule, but the project should move forward as designed. According to Cohen, altering the current plan to one that mixes renovation and new construction, or one that involves renovation alone, could delay the project by years and send costs soaring over the $200 million mark.

"The options that have been discussed are really nonstarters," Cohen said in an interview last Wednesday. "The plans that have been bandied about will put us back to square one."

Cohen is expected to present a financing plan to the board on Wednesday, but it will be based on his cost estimate last month for the project - $186 million. A final guaranteed maximum price for the project is not expected to be negotiated until perhaps May.

-- Rachana Rathi

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