HOLDEN, Mass. — Holden voters will have their say on whether to go forward with the new Mountview Middle School construction project at a special town meeting and ballot election in April.
After years of work by the Mountview School Building Committee, the Holden Board of Selectman on Monday set a special town meeting about the project for Monday, April 8, with a ballot election also set for Thursday, April 11.
According to Building Committee Chair Paul Challenger, an audio-visual presentation on the project and question-and-answer session will be held at the town meeting to give residents information and the opportunity to have their say.
"We prefer to do this at a special town meeting rather than a regular town meeting because the regular town meeting is already jam-packed with important issues, and adding a project of this size will call for hours of discussion, which seems like the wrong thing to add to the annual agenda," explained Challenger.
In October, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved Holden's recommendation for constructing a new Mountview Middle School on the same Shrewsbury Street site, rather than doing a renovation or choosing a new location.
The MSBA's final approval of the project will come April 3, with the decision to also determine the percentage the state will cost-share with Holden. Currently, it is expected that the MSBA will contribute 50 to 54 percent of the funds.
Since the MSBA already approved the project proposal, Challenger said they don't expect any surprises or major changes from the MSBA on April 3.
The new building is slated to be an 128,000-square-foot school constructed behind the existing 91,000-square-foot facility.
Committee member David White also explained that the building could be utilized for an evacuation location in town, in case of emergency.
While the senior center can hold about 60 people, White said it isn't able to accommodate people overnight.
"The plan is to have a generator that will be able to service the entire building," said White, adding that the new middle school gym and cafeteria would likely have the capacity to provide shelter for 300 to 400 people.
"We don't have anything of that size that we own," said White.