Residents in Milford will have a chance to vote for or against the proposed Woodland School project at Special Town Meeting Monday night.
The meeting will specifically look at two articles that ask Town Meeting members to vote in favor of placement of the school on a field adjacent to the exiting school, as well as provide funds that would allow for the construction.
If approved, the new school would house the third, fourth and fifth grades when completed, and include 132,000-square-feet of space, a full-sized gymnasium, a fine arts corridor and a cafe-torium with a stage that would allow students to perform at the school. Separated bus loops and parent drop-offs would be created to increase safety.
The proposed project is expected to cost about $60.9 million, with the Massachusetts School Building Authority potentially footing about 43 percent in reimbursements. Milford's contribution, in turn, would be about $34 million, according to Town Administrator Richard Villani.
The first of the two articles to be discussed Monday asks Town Meeting members to add a section to the existing zoning bylaw to allow school-related structures to be placed within 25 feet of adjoining residential properties, and also to allow for a taller height for public school buildings; the current height cap is 2.5 stories, while the proposed Woodland design features a three-story academic building. The Milford Planning Board voted in January to recommend Town Meeting approve the amendment.
The second article will focus on how to pay for the project, specifically looking at an article to appropriate, borrow or transfer the money for the construction of the new school, according to Milford Town Administrator Richard Villani.
"I think there is a need for the school," Villani said. "Town Meeting will have to make a determination on the affordability of it."
Officials have released an Analysis of the Affordability of the Woodland School Project, as well, prepared by Milford Town Accountant Zachary Taylor, FinCom Financial Analyst Paul Abbondanza and FinCom Chairman Marc Schaen. Educators have also advocated for the project.
Milford Schools Superintendent Robert Tremblay, meanwhile, met with the Milford School Committee on Thursday to provide updates of the project prior to Monday's Town Meeting. Tremblay told Milford Patch he is hoping the project goes through.
"I'm an optimist," he said. "I'd like to believe that everyone will see the right thing to do here. The school is overcrowded and it needs to be improved."
At least two-thirds of Town Meeting will need to vote in favor of the project for it to be approved, he added.
"I can't predict what the outcome will be," Tremblay said. "I'm just hopeful that people will do the right thing. The reality is, we may not get another short at this."
Tremblay related that if the project is not approved, a similar project in the future may not receive support from the MSBA.
"If we don't do this now, and we have to get back in line with the MSBA, there's the potential they won't even consider our application," he said. "When we resubmitted interest in the Woodland plan, the MSBA said at the time that Milford was a moving target. That was the prediction they had back before 2004. The fact that they referred to us as a moving target stuck with me.
The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Editor's Note: Information from previous articles covered by Milford Patch on the Woodland School project was used in this article.