Boquet Valley is the newest school district in the state. In summer 2019, the voters in the Westport and Elizabethtown-Lewis school districts voted to merge to become a new, consolidated district. The Boquet River is a small, 40-mile river that flows into Lake Champlain out of the mountains in Essex County. It flows directly down the middle of the two districts. The district is within the Adirondack park blue line and Boquet is pronounced BO-KET. *we think. We’ve heard it may have a French feel to the pronunciation.
At last fall’s NYSCOSS conference in Saratoga, we were fortunate to meet Joshua Meyer, Boquet Valley School Superintendent. From there – the chase began. He literally asked us if we could design a new school for them, as the voters thought they were voting on the construction of a new school facility when they voted to merge. Mike met with the Superintendent and began to design a spec facility and grounds based on their program. They are currently housed in the two former schools that are a distance apart. The wish is to find a new piece of property to move both student bodies.
An RFP process happened at the beginning of the year with a proposal due in mid-February. Fourteen firms submitted proposals. Mike Harris and Taylor had a model made of their proposed design.
After the short-list, we were asked to answer five questions that we submitted in proposal form. After that, a 45-minute community presentation was supposed to occur, followed by a 45 minute, 15 question closed-door interview with the board and facilities committee. We were going to bring the model up to use in our presentation. Because of social distancing rules, that was changed to “submit your presentation via video” and then do a WebEx call for the 15 questions.
We then hired a production company in Ithaca, where Kevin, Mike, Taylor, and BarbaraJean did speaking spots that were later put into a half-hour video presentation that we submitted to Boquet. We also had them film the model to show it to the community and school officials.
The one-hour Q/A via WebEx happened with Kevin and Mike broadcasting from the Watertown office with Zach at the controls. Taylor and Sandy in Saratoga participating on another screen.
After the Q/A session, the school narrowed down the field to two firms, us and CS Arch. We were then asked to take another look at our fee. We submitted a revised fee and then waited.
A draft Resolution was on the agenda for June 11 that had blanks where the architect name was to appear. We watched the meeting via WebEx and held our breaths when they started to read the Resolution. We were very pleased to hear them say BCA Architects & Engineers.
BCA designing a new school for this district is a significant opportunity. We currently work with 50 school districts across New York State. We beat out very worthy competition that has designed new schools from the ground up. It’s not every day that a new school and grounds, fields, transportation facility, driveways, sidewalks, etc are built. Everyone wanted this project, and we get to do it.
The school is doing Building Condition Surveys on both facilities. We expect that the amount of money needed to upgrade the former Westport school is going to be significant. The District will still need to vote on a new capital project, and they want to do that next June. Mike has already been up there to plot the course for the pre-referendum schedule.