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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 it wants to include in a capital project after architects presented it Wednesday with the initial list of items that would 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 of those projects when the work is put out for bid, likely in late 2015. It’s based on architects’ 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.”

Board members’ 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. Wednesday, he said, was “a good opportunity to have them explain it and give you a chance to a) ask questions, and b) come up with some more things.

“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 ballpark,” 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 the considerations in the preliminary drawing 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 “safety and separation” is concern.

With a dedicated bus area, blocked off from other vehicles, students could safely board and leave and walk into their 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, Mr. Cruikshank said, particularly during events. 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 lot has 366 parking spots, Mr. Cruikshank said, and under the plan presented to board members, it would have 368. More parking could be added by moving the elementary playground, and the bus area could be opened in the evening, providing an additrional “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 replacement of vinyl asbestos tile, and a green area, indicating removal of asbestos pipe insulation.

Replacing some tiles, he said, wouldinvolve a different look in the middle school to disttinguish it as separate from the elementary and high schools.

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

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

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

The district also would 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 the project would replace the steam heating system and convert it to hot water, which would save money in the long run. Also planned is an upgrade of 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 recommendations for the project. If it is approved by voters, Mr. Taylor said, the district could send the plan to the state Education Department in October or November. 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,” Mr. Taylor said.

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