School project underway

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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New West Highlands will open next September

Crews from Beale and Inch Construction prepare land at the former Lions Park property for the new $11.1-million West Highlands Elementary School slated to open in September 2014. 

 

AMHERST – Work has officially begun on what will be Amherst’s newest elementary school when it opens a year from now.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Maurice Smith said Wednesday that while the final design has yet to be completed, work on site preparation began Aug. 18.

“This is a design-build, meaning as part of the tender award, the builder will design the school,” Smith said in an email to the Amherst News. “While we wait for the final design submission, we can still establish the footings and foundation. That’s the stage we’re in right now.”

Once finished, the minister said, the new 42,000 square-foot school will be two stories high and will be L-shaped with 12 classrooms in the academic wing.

A library, cafeteria, music room and a 5,200 square-foot gymnasium will be in the other wing, along with various support and service spaces throughout the building.

Smith said the project includes a new soccer field that will be available for use in 2015.

The school will have 275 students from Grades Primary to 6 when completed.

“As a LEED Gold Project, there will be generous natural lighting, including windows that open and outdoor learning spaces,” the minister said. “The new school will also have state of the art electronics and environmental control systems installed.”

Premier Darrell Dexter and Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar attended a sod-turning ceremony on the school site several weeks ago, while the former Lions Park and Lion Cecil Small Ball Park were both cleared in preparation for the project.

The school will replace century-old West Highlands Elementary on Hickman Street.

The project was originally announced in December 2010 with a completion in time for the coming school year. It was delayed as the province reopened the site selection process after the original submissions weren’t acceptable to the province.

The Lions property was identified as a site by former school employee and town councillor Terry Rhindress, who brought the idea to council. The property was made available as part of a land swap with the existing school property being transferred to the Lions Club after the school project is completed.

"I was up the other day to check it out and it's really exciting to see that work has begun," said Rhindress. "I can't wait to go in the new school for the first time. I just hope it's on time."

Since it’s a new school project it’s being managed by the province. The stalled River Hebert school project is being managed by the school board since it’s a renovation project.

Last week, Education Minister Ramona Jennex said she expects the board to be in a position to call tenders to finish the project.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Amherst News, Lions Club, River Hebert school

Geographic location: AMHERST, Lions Park, Lion Cecil Small Ball Park Hickman Street

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Recent comments

  • Maccan resident
    August 30, 2013 - 17:04

    I have fond memories of River Hebert school but people in this area from Maccan to Joggins to Shulie have simply got to face reality in that a new school anywhere south of Nappan would be a complete and utter waste of tax dollars. Everyone I talk to says you take away the school then we gut the community because young people won't move here or stay here and our property values will go down. At what cost to our children and our neighbours are you willing to maintain this farce? The young people have been voting with their feet for several generations now and are not going to settle here because of a school. It takes far far more than that to make a desirable community. I say enough with wasting our tax dollars and bulldoze River Hebert as well as some other poorly located schools (eg Northport and Wentworrh) and bus kids to Amherst or Springhill or Oxford or Pugwash. We have a province that is in poor economic shape and it is precisely because we struggle to keep operating public infrastructure that was built for the population in 1920 or 1950. Not 2013. That means some things need to change, particularly this insanely located network of schools. We are 30,000 people in this county. That's the size of a small town in a central or western province or a New Engand state. We cannot afford luxuries like these tiny poorly situated schools.

  • Rose
    August 30, 2013 - 09:59

    Is just amazes me that these decisions can be made so quickly. “This is a design-build, meaning as part of the tender award, the builder will design the school,” Smith said in an email to the Amherst News. Why can't we have a design- build and see progress being made to the school in River Hebert. The builder could start the construction and adjustments made based on the final cost. At least then we would see something being done. Instead we could be waiting forever. The school board has been trying to close River Hebert schools since I moved here in 2005 and probably before that too. You think that it would have been more appropriate to have the building tenders and rebuild plans in place prior to the school being torn down. The school board should use River Hebert School as a lesson on what not to do and have plans in place before disrupting a whole community. I am sure that none of the parents want to see their children spend hours on a bus going to Amherst. To home school would be better than that! Oh wait - then the school board would be out of a job if all the students were home schooled. Just sign me frustrated in River Hebert.

    • Jason
      September 01, 2013 - 15:35

      "You think that it would have been more appropriate to have the building tenders and rebuild plans in place prior to the school being torn down" I would assume this to be required by law or legislation or what ever you want to call being proactive in the interest of a community and its citizens be called. The school was probably so contaminated they had to tear it down before anyone found out the health ramifications of years of neglect. Probably so full of mold and asbestos they could do a study on the surrounding population to find why their so hardy despite such neglect and adversity. Coal miner immuno resisstancioso. Their are not enough votes down their for the Government feel the urgency of stepping up and doing what needs to be done for the children. Those of which will hopefully take care of us in years to come. That design to build sounds like it could end up costing more than quoted. I wonder how many tax payers are in the River Hebert School District? I wonder what tax revenue was collected since the school was destroyed from this demographic? Hours travelling is not realistic and many of the advantages provided by the larger school would be lost on the complications hours of transportation raises for children and their families . How long is the bus ride from lower cove to Amherst anyways and how much are these bus trips cost, just so it can be compared to an effective alternative. High Speed Transit, call the paypal guy and get him to shoot the kids 800 miles an hour through his air tube, its a design-build.

  • Rose
    August 30, 2013 - 09:59

    Is just amazes me that these decisions can be made so quickly. “This is a design-build, meaning as part of the tender award, the builder will design the school,” Smith said in an email to the Amherst News. Why can't we have a design- build and see progress being made to the school in River Hebert. The builder could start the construction and adjustments made based on the final cost. At least then we would see something being done. Instead we could be waiting forever. The school board has been trying to close River Hebert schools since I moved here in 2005 and probably before that too. You think that it would have been more appropriate to have the building tenders and rebuild plans in place prior to the school being torn down. The school board should use River Hebert School as a lesson on what not to do and have plans in place before disrupting a whole community. I am sure that none of the parents want to see their children spend hours on a bus going to Amherst. To home school would be better than that! Oh wait - then the school board would be out of a job if all the students were home schooled. Just sign me frustrated in River Hebert.

  • Stu Dentpopulation
    August 29, 2013 - 21:21

    AWESOME!!!!!

  • David
    August 29, 2013 - 20:10

    The Children that go to school in River Hebert would love to have a locker room and heat in the gym in the winter. They are do have a outdoor rink if they clean the cattails off the pond where the new school should be. So the school board does not have to answer to the government. Could Jennex not order the school board to tender the school. 6 million does not seem like much money for a school for 200 students. The new West Highland will come in at over 12 million for 275 students . Don't get me wrong the children oh the hill need a new school, I have been in the school I even went to school there it was a dump 45 years ago . Before you judge what the people of River Hebert want ,you should go in to the school and see it for yourself .