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Norwood-Norfolk School Board begins plotting capital project

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NORFOLK - The Norwood-Norfolk Central School Board will begin discussing what they want to include in a capital project after architects presented them Wednesday with their initial list of items that would currently come in at nearly $13 million.

William F. Taylor, president of William Taylor Architects, Syracuse, said that number is likely to change, but how much depends on what portions of the project board members want to address and the price tag of those projects when the work is put out for bid, likely in late 2015. It’s based on their initial walk-through of buildings and discussions with district employees.

“We still have things coming in. It’s going to vary up and down,” Mr. Taylor told school board members during their work session. “There are lots of details that have to go into this. We have been conservative on our estimates.”

Their charge for the time being, he said, had been “to get everything in here you think you need and see where it lands.”

Superintendent James M. Cruikshank said the architects had been looking at the district’s building condition survey and talking with people, and he had addressed with board members some of the issues they had found.

“Now is the time to get board input and begin putting things on a list,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

“We needed to get something in front of you, where we are in the thought process. We’re in the neighborhood, not in the ball park,” Mr. Taylor said.

Scott L. Freeman, a landscape architect with Keplinger Freeman Associates LLC, East Syracuse, said among the proposals is to revamp the parking lot to separate private vehicles from buses and provide a safer driving environment. One of their considerations in their preliminary drawing, which he called “concept A,” is adding a third entrance and drop-off area in a traffic circle in front of the elementary school.

“One way in and one way out does not work,” he said, noting they needed to address “safety and separation.”

By having a dedicated bus area, which would be blocked off from other vehicles, students could safely load and unload and walk into their particular schools without worrying about other vehicles, Mr. Freeman said.

Parking lot reconfiguration could take some adjustment,” he said, which might mean training and having staff in the area to direct traffic initially.

Parking has been an issue for the school, according to Mr. Cruikshank, particularly during events at the school. That has meant some drivers parking on Route 56.

“That’s when it really hit me front and center that we have a problem,” he said.

The parking lot currently has 366 parking spots, Mr. Cruikshank said, and under the plan presented to board members it would have 368 spaces. More parking could be added by moving the elementary playground, and the bus area could be opened in the evening, providing another “40-plus spaces,” Mr. Freeman said.

“There might be other areas on-site to explore additional parking. We’re not taking away any of the playground or athletic field,” he said.

“If we want to get real serious about parking, there’s room,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

Work inside the buildings would include addressing asbestos and code issues, according to Mr. Taylor, who pointed out different aspects of the proposal on schematic drawings. Some had a yellow area, which indicated they would replace vinyl asbestos tile, and a green area, indicating they would remove asbestos pipe insulation.

In replacing some tiles, he said they would use a different look in the middle school to separate it as its own school rather than part of the elementary or high schools.

Mr. Taylor also pointed out areas of the school that had code issues to address. Among them was the distance between stairs and exterior doors. Those must be 50 feet maximum, and he said in some cases they were 55 feet.

The initial proposal also calls for an addition to the bus garage to accommodate equipment and an expanded delivery area. They also want to replace auditorium lighting and audio components because replacement parts can no longer be found, and also address curtains - some of which are missing - and seating.

In addition, the plan calls for the replacement of bleachers in the high school gym because those are not code-compliant, Mr. Taylor said.

They would also replace an older, diesel-fueled generator with a newer model that would use natural gas. Mr. Cruikshank said the tank is beginning to rust because of its age.

“It will be much easier to fire up natural gas than fuel,” Mr. Taylor said.

Heating would also be addressed to make it more energy-efficient, he said.

“One of the really big issues here is heating,” Mr. Taylor said.

He said they would replace the steam heating system and convert it to hot water, which would save money in the long run. They also plan to upgrade the emergency management system, which would allow better control of utilities.

“The real key to it is programmability. You save a ton of energy money with that,” Mr. Taylor said.

The current subtotal for the work would be $8,585,272. Adding in a 25 percent, or $2,146,318 contingency would take that to $10,731,590. A 20 percent incidental cost allowance, translating to $2,146,318, would push the final price tag to $12,877,908.

Board members have been asked to review the list and make their recommendations for the project. If approved by voters, Mr. Taylor said they could send the plans to the state Education Department in the October-November time-frame. That review would take six to eight months, putting the approval into the summer of 2015. The bid process would take three to four weeks.

“The earliest I see even starting this project is August 2015,” he said.

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