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Despite Delays, Some Movement Coming in High School Project

The town can unseal trade construction bids on Thursday, and is preparing to move forward with demolition plans.

After more than a year in limbo, things are starting to heat up for the Wilmington High School project.

While the appeal of abutter Gerry O’Reilly remains at the Superior Court level, there are several upcoming milestones for the project. Thursday is the date that the town will be able to unseal bids for trade construction. If the town is satisfied with the winning bids, it can plan on moving forward and accepting them.

When the town opens the bids, they will know whether or not their projections for the cost increases associated with the appeals over the last year were accurate.

In addition, the deadline recently passed for the town to file its response to O’Reilly’s claim. Board of Selectmen chairman Mike Newhouse said that while there is nothing new to report on the Superior Court front, he did confirm that the town submitted its response.

School officials sent out a letter to high school parents informing them of parking changes that will be due to the upcoming demolition of the gymnasium, set for February break. Teachers will begin parking in the student lot on February 11, and seniors with passes will still be able to park in the lot as well.

“The general response I’ve been getting from the community (about plans to move forward with bids and demolition) has been very positive,” said Newhouse. “People are pleased to be moving forward. On a project like this, we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. The inordinate delays have people chomping at the bit to move ahead.”

Jeffrey Baker, the attorney for O’Reilly, told the Boston Globe in an article last week that his client’s only interests are for the safety of himself and his family.

“Mr. O’Reilly supports the building of a new high school, but not at the increased risk to the health and well-being of his family,” said Baker, according to The Globe. “For Mr. O’Reilly, this case is about one thing only… Clean water for himself, his children, and his grandchildren. It has been a 30-year struggle to protect his family from the contamination of his water.”

When contacted by Patch on several occasions over the last year, Baker has been unavailable for comment.

Newhouse did not have any update on the potential for taking control of O’Reilly’s property by eminent domain, other than confirming that selectmen discussed the topic during executive session following last week’s meeting.

The chairman did say that the goal continues to be to have the school completed and ready for use for the 2015-16 academic year, which is why the town plans to begin work in February.

“A contract this complex, there are certainly things that don’t always go exactly as planned. Some go faster, some go a little slower,” said Newhouse. “But at this point, we believe that is an achievable goal.”

Steven McGinley January 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM
If you want to blame someone, blame the board of selectmen and the other town officials thatchoose to shoehorn this project in between an oil spill in the Ipswich River basin. And when they tell you they look at other options, well personally I don't believe it for a second. They've known they were going to put that school there for over 10 years when they took the Murphy/O'Reilly property by eminent domain. And why are they starting construction while the case is still in limbo? If nobody's noticed they started site work off Wildwood Street on Wednesday the 23rd
Steven McGinley January 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Even talking about taking his property by an imminent domain, shows how classless our board of selectmen is. If Mr. O'Reilly is concerned with the quality of his water getting it from the MWRA may not be a suitable option for him. I personally would never drink it.
Christine January 26, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Let's think about this- If I believed my FAMILY was at risk of being contaminated for YEARS- (and as I've said before, Mrs. O'Reilly's passing was a terrible loss for his family)...then, I would continue to bathe, eat and maybe drink out of my contaminated well anyway-- then WAIT until the town proposes building a new structure, then stop that project I REALLY SUPPORT (really!), then sue the town and take that project to the Supreme Court project just so I can now (finally) get clean water hooked up from the town. It feels disingenuous, because it's NOT logical- the timing isn't logical, because his head's been filled with bs from the rest of the illogicals... Regardless of how you feel about the officials, call Mr. O'Reilly's what it is- leverage.
Karl Ian Sagal January 26, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I am glad you are familiar with what Mr. O'Reilly bathes, eats and drinks, but I am not. I do not live in that area of town, but I have a reverse osmosis water filter for all the water that we ingest, (other than what we buy from Market Basket) but we do bathe in town water. That does not mean that I would not fight for clean water as I see fit. If he has been fighting for clean water for years, and this project has given him leverage that he has been lacking for many years, how is that a problem? So, if he is right, the town could have fixed these problems years ago, but decided he had no leverage, and ignored him. Now, he had chosen to not be ignored any longer, and that is his right as a citizen. I do not know all the details. I do not make believe to know what goes on in his house, or in his head. If the courts find he has grounds will all his detractors then apologize? I suspect not. I have been very vocal that I would not take the path he is taking, and I personally want the town to get on with the project that I did vote against, and lost. But I will not diminish the rights of others. Many of us fought and some gave our lives so that people have those rights. I do not take it lightly.
Christine January 26, 2013 at 08:20 PM
His rights? What about our rights? What about our rights as voters and our money? What about other means and methods he could have pursued to "go after" the town a long time prior to THIS if his case is so rock solid and within his rights? What about respect for the safeguards already in place for the environment and the protections reviewed throughout this process? Apologies?? He's the one who owes every taxpayer footing the million dollar+ delay an apology..and if/when he loses, will you concede that this was just an obstruction? I suspect not.

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