After more than a year in limbo, things are starting to heat up for the Wilmington High School project.
While the appeal of abutter Gerry O’Reilly remains at the Superior Court level, there are several upcoming milestones for the project. Thursday is the date that the town will be able to unseal bids for trade construction. If the town is satisfied with the winning bids, it can plan on moving forward and accepting them.
When the town opens the bids, they will know whether or not their projections for the cost increases associated with the appeals over the last year were accurate.
In addition, the deadline recently passed for the town to file its response to O’Reilly’s claim. Board of Selectmen chairman Mike Newhouse said that while there is nothing new to report on the Superior Court front, he did confirm that the town submitted its response.
School officials sent out a letter to high school parents informing them of parking changes that will be due to the upcoming demolition of the gymnasium, set for February break. Teachers will begin parking in the student lot on February 11, and seniors with passes will still be able to park in the lot as well.
“The general response I’ve been getting from the community (about plans to move forward with bids and demolition) has been very positive,” said Newhouse. “People are pleased to be moving forward. On a project like this, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. The inordinate delays have people chomping at the bit to move ahead.”
Jeffrey Baker, the attorney for O’Reilly, told the Boston Globe in an article last week that his client’s only interests are for the safety of himself and his family.
“Mr. O’Reilly supports the building of a new high school, but not at the increased risk to the health and well-being of his family,” said Baker, according to The Globe. “For Mr. O’Reilly, this case is about one thing only… Clean water for himself, his children, and his grandchildren. It has been a 30-year struggle to protect his family from the contamination of his water.”
When contacted by Patch on several occasions over the last year, Baker has been unavailable for comment.
Newhouse did not have any update on the potential for taking control of O’Reilly’s property by eminent domain, other than confirming that selectmen discussed the topic during executive session following last week’s meeting.
The chairman did say that the goal continues to be to have the school completed and ready for use for the 2015-16 academic year, which is why the town plans to begin work in February.
“A contract this complex, there are certainly things that don’t always go exactly as planned. Some go faster, some go a little slower,” said Newhouse. “But at this point, we believe that is an achievable goal.”