Carriage House and Parkhurst Funding Debate | Winchester

WINCHESTER – Town Meeting recently approved $57,000 to fund architectural and engineering consultancy services to eventually renovate the Carriage House so it can be used as the location for the school department’s central office. This spring, the City Assembly will be asked to fund the actual repair of the shed (as well as renovations to Parkhurst School so it can be used as a transitional space during the Lynch School project).

The problem is, as members of the select committee and acting city manager Beth Rudolph noted, finding a way to pay for the work. At a projected cost of nearly $6 million (plus another $170,000 to renovate Parkhurst), the city can’t just use Free Cash to cover it, nor does it seem reasonable to expect that the capital planning committee funds it.

A waiver of the debt exclusion is always a possibility; however, the city will be asking residents to support one for the Lynch School project soon. Convincing voters to support two waivers seems like a difficult task. The city may come up with original ideas.

Whatever happens with the Carriage House, the city will have to pay for renovations to Parkhurst to use this building as a transitional space while Lynch School is being built (similar to the city building a new Vinson-Owen School ). Sending Lynch students to other elementary schools is highly unlikely, if not impossible.

“The Lynch community wants to stick together during construction,” acknowledged Select Board member Michael Bettencourt.

Even if the city renovates Parkhurst for use as a rotating space, it may still need to secure modular classrooms in case there isn’t enough room in the building to house all of Lynch’s students. Once the city has finished renovating or rebuilding Lynch and Parkhurst becomes available (it currently houses the central office, but school board members have said it’s too big to keep the office there permanently), some suggestions including renting the building and using that money to pay debt service on the Carriage House project.

However, some of the members of the select committee called this proposal “high risk”. The city currently leases part of the Mystic School to Kids’ Corner, a private group that leases the first floor (the rest of the building is used by the recreation department). When asked, the city manager did not know how much Kids’ Corner had paid to rent the space inside the Mystic.

According to Rudolph, the Education Facilities Planning and Building Committee will place two articles on the term of the town assembly, one to fund renovations to Carriage House and Parkhurst and another if the first article fails.

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