Wilbur & McMahon School students will start the year off as they ended the last one, as the Little Compton Town Council voted to move temporary classroom pods from Veteran's to Peckham field.
Since the shift in location will delay the installation of the pods, School Committee Chairman Donald Gomez said students would begin the year inside the Wilbur & McMahon School building. This will get student's into classrooms for the district's Sept. 4 start date, he said, dispelling rumors that student's would experience a weeks-long delay in returning this fall.
"We hope for no delay on the contract and to try to meet the end goal," said Gomez. "There is sufficient flexibility in getting the job done by when we want it done. We want to be back in our school in basically 18 months."
Gomez and the council agreed to resend solicitations for requests for proposals on siting the temporary pods at the new locations. Bids are due by Aug. 29
Gomez said that he is unsure how long it will take to install the pods on the new site.
"We don't want to be there until Christmas, but we do need some time," he said.
According to Gomez the switch will appease a variety of safety and siting concerns regarding excavation and hooking into the town's sewer lines.
"I hope that at the end there is some money to fix these fields as they should be," said Patrick McHugh, chairman to the RCOS. "The kids are suffering, the town is suffering, it's an embarrassment. That field needs to be fixed, and when the pods are up, that's the time to drain that field so that we have a legal field for our students."
McHugh said the RCOS has been working to find funds for several years to
drain the wet area and make it a suitable athletic field for students to use.
"I think it is the right thing to do and I think it is the logical thing to do to make it into an athletic field," agreed Robert Mushen, council president.
Debbie Ladd, owner of Country & Coastal Properties, a real estate office that abuts Peckham field worried the installation of the temporary classroom pods could further complicate drainage on the soggy land.
"I'm worried as taxpayer No. 1 that you are going to get in there and going to get bogged down because that whole field is so wet you need rubbers to walk across it," said Ladd. "My concerns are twofold that you don't get in there and it ends up costing you more money because of the water table, which you don't see now because it is so dry."
Gomez said both Veterans and Peckham fields were known to be wet lots, but said the soil would be treated accordingly.
"The plan is to make the site where the temporary buildings go more stable, with better elevation, and not to have more drainage go out," said Gomez. "You are ending up with a more level field with a harder surface so when you play soccer, it will be much more amenable."