H’port school seeks repair dollars

Mary Perham
Kyle Bower

Voters in the Hammondsport Central School District will be asked to return to the polls Tuesday to vote on a $7.7-million renovation to the Main Street school.

The repairs are needed to bring the 53-year-old building into compliance with the state Education Department’s recommendations, according to school Superintendent Kyle Bower.

Essential repairs include fixing most of the roof, replacing parts of the original water and electrical systems and paving.

Other projects include making public restrooms accessible to handicapped people, removing asbestos tiles, replacing unsafe windows and doors, and upgrading technology infrastructure  

Bower told the two dozen residents attending an information meeting Thursday there is an urgent need for the repairs, despite the current economic climate.

If approved by the voters, the district would be able to use $1 million from its building reserve fund for the work, and expects to get 57 percent state building aid if the project is approved this year, Bower said. The owner of a home assessed at $50,000 would pay an additional $6 annually on the 16-year bond. Those with property tax exemptions would pay less.

Delaying the needed repairs or breaking them up into separate projects could mean higher costs, annual approval by the state or the loss of state aid in later years.

State aid was the prime concern of residents at the meeting.

Project consultants said it is possible state aid for building projects may be reduced in the future. However, approving the project now means it is more likely the law will support the funding.

Work could not exceed the amount approved by the voters, consultants said.

Bower said the renovations are a result of the five-year survey required by state. Original estimates placed construction and repairs at $10 million, he said.

A committee of school and civic leaders met and whittled the list of requirements down to its current tally.

Bower warned continuing the current maintenance and repair efforts will only mean more damage and problems.

“If we are able to correct these deficiencies, this building will be able to serve the district for the next 30, 40 years,” he said.

If the project is approved by voters, plans will be drawn up for approval by the state. After state approval of the plan, the district would approve a $6.7 million bond, with construction beginning by the summer of 2012.

The vote on the proposed $7.7 million Main Street School capital project is slated for noon- 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Hammondsport High School lobby. Information is available in the school newspaper, “Laker Lines;” on the district Web site,  or by calling Bower at 569-5200.

The school district will give residents a chance to give their feedback about the 2011 proposed capital project after they vote on June 7th. Voters at the polling locations will be invited to complete a brief exit poll in writing and drop it in special marked boxes. Information gathered from the exit poll will be for future decisions on capital improvement projects.  

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