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Beaver River school athletic field project commencing

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BEAVER FALLS — Although much of the Beaver River Central School District’s $11.25 million capital project is on hold until next year, a turf makeover of the athletic fields already is kicking off.

Cunningham Excavation, Cazenovia, was the low bidder for the project’s field portion, including installation of an artificial turf field, and is slated to start bringing in equipment this week.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held in the near future.

District officials said the company’s $2,552,901 bid, one of 11 submitted, was favorable for the school.

“It was lower than what we thought it was going to be,” District Superintendent Leueen Smithling said.

District officials are hopeful that the fields will be ready by mid-September, assuming the weather cooperates. However, some work — such as a top seal coat on the track — could wait until spring, if necessary, they said.

Voters last June overwhelmingly approved the base project, along with the option for a turf field.

While the artificial surface is more costly than natural turf, students are expected to be able to use the field immediately, while architects said a sod-based field likely would not be usable until at least fall 2015.

The outdoor improvements, designed by Appel Osborne, Syracuse, also would include a new track and tennis courts, as well as address drainage issues on the baseball field.

Despite having a historically strong track program, deficiencies with the facility have prevented the school from hosting a track meet for many years.

The district actually started work on the capital project last fall with repairs to the pool.

The district separated the field work, which received state Education Department approval in late February, from the interior portion to ensure that the outdoor work could start this year, district Business Manager Randolph M. Myers said.

The remainder of the project — including renovations to the kindergarten/first-grade wing and agricultural classroom and conversion of a steam heating system to a more energy-efficient hot water system — has undergone a state architectural review, but its mechanical review has about 100 projects ahead of it in the state Education Department pipeline, he said.

Had the field work been lumped in with the interior work, which requires a more thorough state review, “it wouldn’t have gotten done in time for the summer,” Mrs. Smithling said.

District officials are tentatively planning to go out to bid on the interior work this fall, with the work to commence around this time next year, Mr. Myers said.

State building aid is expected to cover 82.1 percent of capital project costs, and district officials plan to cover part of the local share with $1.75 million from the unreserved fund balance.

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