Concord School District announces plan to purchase 38-acre parcel on Clinton Street for new middle school

  • HMiller

  • Proposed 38-acre site for a new Concord middle school on Clinton Street. —Courtesy

Published: 3/16/2022 6:10:31 PM

A 38-acre parcel of land on Clinton Street has been identified as the preferred location of a new Concord middle school after the district officially entered into a letter of intent this week to purchase the property currently owned by CenterPoint Church.

The land, located at 129-139 Clinton Street, is just a mile from the current middle school location on South Street.

The letter of intent isn’t a binding agreement, school district business administrator Jack Dunn said Wednesday, but it continues the dialogue towards a purchase. In the next month, the district hopes to have a formal purchase and sale agreement for the land in place followed by a public hearing to determine if the community supports moving forward. If the land is eventually purchased the district will need to move swiftly to submit an application to the state for school building aid by July 1.

The school district and the church wanted to announce the preliminary agreement to get feedback from the public.

“Both organizations want to get a pulse from the community,” Dunn said. “It was time to let the community know what we’re thinking.”

The school district looked at 18 properties throughout the city to potentially build a new middle school. Some were better than others, but the Clinton Street parcel “checked all the boxes,” Dunn said.

The site, which is officially 37.96 acres, consists of three different parcels: one is a 30-acre vacant lot ith woods in the back, another is about seven acres of athletic fields and the third one is slightly less than an acre and contains a house. The combined assessed value of the three lots is $604,550, according to city tax records. The school district did not announce a purchase price for the land.

Several things made this site attractive to the school district, including that it is within walking distance of Memorial Field and Concord High, it has enough space to allow for outdoor learning opportunities and can accommodate a potential partnership with Concord YMCA. In addition, the land is already tax-exempt because it was owned by the church.

A 14-home neighborhood borders the west side of the lot, while community gardens on state land border on the east side.

District officials have been considering rebuilding Rundlett since 2016, when it was decided that the building’s needs – repairs to the roof, floors and bathrooms, plumbing, HVAC system and fire alarm system – were extensive enough to consider an alternative.

In January, the Concord School Board voted to keep the current six to eight grade configuration in the new building. The new building, which is being designed by HMFH Architects, is estimated to be completed in 2025 and cost around $74 million.  The HMFH school design would likely feature separate “neighborhoods” of classrooms for sixth, seventh and eighth graders, and have the gym, auditorium and cafeteria would be shared common spaces.

The Concord School Board also decided in January to move forward with a non-binding letter of intent to explore a collaboration with the Granite YMCA with the idea of building a school alongside a family YMCA facility. 

"It's a great opportunity," Dunn said. "Excitement is building."

After a purchase and sale agreement, the district would make a two-part deposit of $100,000. For 90 days after the purchase and sale agreement, the district would have access to the property and related documents to do inspections and studies. Then the district has 12 months to obtain approvals and permits to build on the property before closing can occur.

The future of the current Rundlett site, including the 186,000 square foot building and 11.1 acres of land will be discussed once a final decision is made to build a new school at the Clinton Street site.

"Our goal is to put that site back in active reuse as soon as possible," Dunn said. "Hopefully, it will go back on the tax rolls."

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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