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Norwood-Norfolk Central School to hold June 4 capital project vote

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NORFOLK - Residents of the Norwood-Norfolk Central School District will be going to the polls in May to vote on the district’s 2014-15 budget and election of board of education members.

Then, a month later, they’ll be heading to the polls again to cast their votes on a proposed capital project.

The vote for the approximately $13.5 million project will be held June 4. Board members this week approved the state environmental quality review for the kindergarten through grade 12 building, bus maintenance and delivery building, parking lots, and track and soccer field.

“I have the scope the architects have provided. (Residents) will be voting on the whole package. They’ll be voting on the amount,” Superintendent James M. Cruikshank told board of education members this week.

He said the district’s facilities manager has been asked to go through the list of proposed items and prioritize them based on necessity. Mr. Cruikshank said he would provide board members with the list so they could review it and provide feedback.

“When we present it to the public, we have to present it as a prioritized list,” he said.

Architects had presented board members with the proposed scope of the capital project work in January. William F. Taylor, president of William Taylor Architects, Syracuse, had said that final price tag was likely to change, but how much depended on what portions of the project board members wanted to address and the price tag of those projects when the work is put out for bid. It was based on their initial walk-through of buildings and discussions with district employees.

“Everything we talked about is in there,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

Mr. Taylor had predicted that, if the project was approved by voters, 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, with work starting in August 2015 at the earliest.

“We’re guessing prices to get ready for summer 2015. We want some things (such as heating) figured out. We want to make sure the costs now are the same as down the road,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

Scott L. Freeman, a landscape architect with Keplinger Freeman Associates LLC, East Syracuse, told board members in January that among the proposals was 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 was adding a third entrance and drop-off area in a traffic circle in front of the elementary school.

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.

The parking lot currently has 366 parking spots 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 more spaces.

Depending on the final cost, Mr. Cruikshank said there was a possible alternative to revamping the parking lot. Instead, he said, the parking lot could be re-striped to accomplish the same goal.

Work inside the buildings would include addressing asbestos and code issues, Mr. Taylor had told board members. 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 had 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. The current tank is beginning to rust because of its age.

The steam heating system would also be converted to hot water, which would save the district money in the long run. They also plan to upgrade the emergency management system, which would allow better control of utilities.

Mr. Cruikshank said, depending on how the final project totals come in, they could start cutting items from the scope of the project if necessary.

“You can scrap things. You can start taking off from the bottom. Those are the less priority things,” he said.

Board member Thomas W. Scott pointed out that, no matter what the cost of the project the funding was not related to the district’s operational budget.

“There are pots of money totally dedicated by the state” to construction, he said.

“We can’t draw from it and use it on our operational budget. The state has already dedicated capital improvement funds,” Mr. Cruikshank said.

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