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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam growing frustrated SED delays for capital project approval

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POTSDAM - It’s been more than 20 weeks since the Potsdam Central School District submitted Phase II of its capital project to the state education department for approval, something they are still waiting for nearly six months later.

“They’ve had it for 22 weeks now,” said Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Wade A. Davis. “This is starting to cost the Potsdam taxpayers money.”

Mr. Davis explained, “Contractors right now are lining up their spring and summer work.”

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said he addressed the delay with state education officials when he was in Albany last week, and was told that approval was still more than a month away.

“At this point we’re still four weeks out,” he said. “Then it’s going to come down to are the local contractors still going to need work?” he said.

Mr. Brady also said that he wasn’t the only superintendent voicing frustrations over the amount of time it is taking the state to approve projects.

“When I was in Albany this was a common refrain from district superintendents,” he said.

Board of education member Frederick C. Stone asked about putting the project out to bid pending SED approval.

“That was we can get it out on the streets,” he said, adding the bid opening would then be held after approval was received.

Mr. Brady said the district has asked it’s engineering firm, SEI Design Group, if that was something they could do, but they have yet to hear back whether or not that would be OK.

Phase II of the project is scheduled to include work at buildings across the district that has been estimated at just over $13 million.

Highlights of that work at the high school includes lighting upgrades and ceiling replacement, emergency lighting and, if necessary, asbestos abatement. The major part of the project though is converting the original building from a steam heating system to a hot water system. Masonry repairs will also be made to the outside of the building, which will also undergo a face lift.

Work at the middle school will include lighting upgrades, as well as ceiling replacement and upgrades to the building’s electrical system.

Other improvements include upgrading the building’s locks, ventilations system door replacements, kitchen upgrades and repaving the building’s sidewalks and parking lots.

The repaving will also include work at the bus garage, which is located adjacent to the middle school.

At the elementary school work is scheduled to include lighting upgrades, ceiling replacement, repairs to the rear sidewalk, installation of security cameras, renovations to the playground, additional renovations to the crawl space, kitchen upgrades and the reconfiguring of office space.

Work will also include the removal of old carpets, which will be replaced with vinyl flooring, and the removal of asbestos flooring.

District-wide work is scheduled to include a new fire alarm system, as well as secure entrances for each of the buildings and other security upgrades.

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