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Story - Education

Sep 21, 2009 4:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eastport South Manor School Board tweaks building proposal

Sep 21, 2009 4:18 PM

Eastport South Manor Board of Education members last week considered another variation of a proposal to build a new kindergarten-through-second-grade building at the Eastport Elementary School, in an effort to mitigate concerns that the proposed two-story building would be an eyesore for residents living adjacent to the school on Tuttle Avenue.

The board is also assessing whether a bus access driveway between the main school building and the new addition would shave off too much space from existing ballfields.

Under the proposal, presented by Richard Wiedersum from the architectural firm of Wiedersum Associates at a board meeting on Wednesday, September 9, the location of a proposed two-story wing of the planned kindergarten-through-second grade building was moved to the western side of the property, shielding it from direct view of Tuttle Avenue homeowners. Originally, the wing, which would include classrooms for first- and second-graders, was planned to be built on the eastern side of the property line.

“Basically, from our last meeting, what we did was flip the building,” Mr. Wiedersum said.

The proposal marks the final of three phases of new construction within the Eastport South Manor School District, designed to take advantage of increased state building aid due to the merger of Eastport and South Manor school districts in 2003. The third phase includes upgrades to the Eastport, Dayton Avenue and South Street elementary schools, which encompasses new gymnasiums, classrooms, libraries and cafeterias. It would also create a much needed central storage and administration building at Dayton Avenue.

The proposed Eastport Elementary kindergarten-to-second-grade building addition is expected to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified, and would include a state-of-the-art cogeneration power plant, allowing the district to generate some of its own heat and electricity.

Currently, the total price tag of all construction at the three elementary schools stands at nearly $64 million, with more than half—$37 million—funding the new school building at Eastport Elementary. As much as 95 percent of the construction costs would be paid by state aid. The remainder would be paid by the district, either through taxes or the use of district savings, officials said.

Richard Snyder, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said it was too soon to gauge the possible tax impact of the project. Representatives from the architectural firm were expected to meet with New York State Education Department officials this week to discuss how much of the new proposal would be eligible for state building aid, helping district officials to formulate a projected tax impact, according to Mr. Snyder.

“The State Education Department has to weigh in and say what they’ll aid and what they won’t,” Mr. Snyder said.

He said the board was expected to finalize the proposal by the end of October, and a districtwide referendum on the project would be held in December.

Mr. Snyder said the firm could not update the cost to reflect the changes presented last week until board members made a decision regarding the placement of the two-story construction and the access road for buses, which would allow buses to drop off and pick up students at both buildings. He noted, however, that the total cost should not fluctuate greatly from the projected $64 million.

“They have to decide how they want to queue the buses up,” Mr. Snyder said. “It may involve moving one of the storage sheds.”

In considering the driveway, however, board members questioned the decreased space for ballfields. School Board President Vincent Sweeney said at the meeting that the board would forgo the driveway if it jeopardized space for fields.

“We will consider the access road between the current building and the new building as long as it doesn’t impact the fields,” Mr. Sweeney said.

Aside from the driveway and other minor tweaking, Mr. Snyder said the board was, on the whole, content with the plan.

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