Agriscience center plans take shape in Region 12
Published 10:46 pm, Wednesday, August 26, 2015
“Look beyond the barn.”
This will be the message Nov. 10 from the Region 12 Board of Education and administration to Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington voters.
A referendum vote will be held Nov. 10 in all three towns to possibly approve spending for the center at Shepaug Valley School.
An estimated price of $45 million was presented Aug. 17 by Brian N. Holmes, an O & G Industries assistant vice president. O & G would be the contractor.
However, Boos said the $45 million would be a “high estimate” and he is reworking figures to reach a more reasonable cost.
“We know that for new construction for the agriscience facility we will get at least 80 percent reimbursement from the state,” said Jim Hirschfield, the board chairman. “Reimbursement for renovations to existing space would be less. However, we likely won’t get exact numbers from the state until the spring.”
The state Board of Education approved Shepaug Valley School as Connecticut’s 20th agriscience STEM center during an Aug. 4 meeting.
The approval would be contingent on a supporting vote from residents in all three towns — Bridgewater, Roxbury, and Washington — to fund the construction and required renovations to the existing facility.
The Region 12 agri-science program would welcome students from New Milford, Sherman, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield and Newtown.
This school year, Nonnewaug High School’s Agriscience program had 49 students enrolled from these towns and Region 12. Nonnewaug is turning away 50 percent of applying students at this time. Shepaug would fill that gap.
The proposed addition to the existing school would be 26,500-square-feet, including biotechnology, animal science and plant science classrooms. Also in that addition would be a biotechnology lab, food science lab, retail sales space and three greenhouses as well as administrative offices.
Renovations would be made to existing unused space, creating an agricultural mechanical shop, agriculture technology and aquaculture classrooms and an aquaculture lab.
The five existing science labs would be renovated as well.
Accessory buildings would include a 10,100-square-foot animal facility, with stalls for large animals, a demonstration classroom and dog grooming kennels and small animal housing.
An equine facility would be 23,500 square feet with an indoor riding range, classroom and eight stalls for horses. tack room, and hay, shavings and grain storage.
An outdoor riding ring and paddock/turnout area would be created on the west side of the existing service pond. An agricultural equipment garage of 3,900 square feet is also planned.
“You and your team have done a wonderful job in answering some vexing questions we had about fitting animals and buildings in the space available and moving existing sports fields,” Greg Cava, the board facilities committee chairman, told Boos.
Boos responded, “We’re not touching the existing track or soccer field and the grass practice fields will be shifted but remain natural turf.
“Four new tennis courts will be on the south end of the existing building,” he added. “They had to be moved to accommodate the new addition, as did the sports fields.”