HUDSON — A groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday night marked the official start of construction and renovation efforts for a new and improved career and technical education school at Alvirne High School in Hudson.
Alvirne Principal Steven Beals said construction crews are installing the necessary underground drainage, water and sewer systems for the 38,000 square feet of new construction that began Wednesday.
The new construction represents the first of four phases, with the latter three focusing on 47,000 square feet of interior renovations, Beals said. Phase Two begins in September and will overlap the first phase.
About 8,000 square feet of classrooms and greenhouses will also be demolished.
The project is expected to cost about $25 million. Beals said the newly constructed space could be occupied by late May 2020.
When the work is complete, the Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center will have a new media studio, new automated manufacturing and metal fabrication facilities, expanded computer science and health science programs, and a culinary arts program that’s integrated with the finance and marketing programs.
It’s been 25 years since the last renovation. Beals said it was special to have Wilbur Palmer’s widow, Marge Palmer, present for the groundbreaking ceremony, using the same ceremonial shovel that Wilbur used in 1991.
“First time that shovel’s been in dirt since the original commemoration,” Beals said.
The project still faces a financial hiccup with about a $2.5 million shortfall in expected state funding, but Beals said they have the funding necessary to complete the first wave of projects over the next 18 months.
If the money can’t be found in the next two years, it could mean an additional cost of up to $1 million and a 10-month hiatus in construction.
State Sen. Sharon Carson said she has asked Sen. David Watters, the chair of the Senate Capital Budget Committee, to put any potential surplus money toward the Alvirne project so they don’t have to wait for it in the next budget in 2021.
With the current budget impasse between lawmakers and the governor, it’s still unclear if there is a surplus to work with, Carson said.
“I keep asking, ‘can we do this, can we do this?’” Carson said. “I’m going to keep pushing to see if we can pay this off if the money is there.”
Carson said the improved CTE school will enrich the students’ experience and provide valuable life skills and career skills.
The school is being built by Harvey Construction in Bedford and designed by Lavallee Brensinger in Manchester.