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Sep 13, 2016 2:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton School District Announces Plans To Build Bus Maintence Depot

East Hampton School District will have an on-site school bus depot. KYRIL BROMLEY
Sep 13, 2016 3:05 PM

The East Hampton Union Free School District may acquire its own line of buses and a maintenance depot for parking, refueling, and repairs.

At their most recent school board meeting last Tuesday, September 6, School Board members announced plans to build a bus maintenance barn and refueling facility on the Cedar Street-side of the district property, located behind East Hampton High School. The district has been using a bus maintenance depot on Route 114 for several years but, according to School Board President J.P. Foster, a change in location was necessary.

“We had been renting the 114 property from the Schaefer family, who also offered bus services for us,” Mr. Foster said. “They stopped providing transportation for us so the district decided to buy their own buses and seize the property. We were keeping the buses behind the high school at the Cedar Street area, but it was just for parking purposes. There was no depot or garage, we didn’t have a home, so to speak.”

Mr. Foster said there were three other possible locations for the depot: in front of the teacher and student parking area on Long Lane, the practice field used by the football team, and behind the high school on the north side of the building.

“We’ve been discussing this publicly for maybe three-and-a-half years and we presented all possible areas for the depot to the public,” Mr. Foster said. “Most people opposed it being in front of the building because they thought it blocked the sight of the parking area and could block traffic. The board members didn’t want to take up any part of the outdoor fields, especially the practice field. And having the depot right behind the school would cause trouble for the cafeteria trying to move stuff through the back of the school. Cedar Street has its own access, we’ve had buses back there before, and there’s a lot of room there. We’re not trying to burden anybody, we’re simply leasing property.”

Mr. Foster said that the School Board hopes that the depot will be complete by spring 2019, but understands that the process is only just starting. According to District Superintendent Richard Burns, the district must submit an environmental assessment of the area to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Known as the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process, it will take eight weeks for the assessment to be completed and once the assessment is submitted to department and approved, the district can move forward with planning. They still have to go before the Town Planning Board with the designs for the depot. The also need to determine the square footage of the depot before they can give the construction costs a specific price, but Mr. Foster said that the money will be raised through a public bond referendum.

“We’ve been debating whether or not we wanted to get involved with the bus business for a while, but we realized that having our own buses is the most advantageous thing to do,” Mr. Foster said. “When we have our sports teams that drive out to certain fields and then find out their game has been canceled, we need to be able to logistically shift the schedules of the buses to meet the needs of our kids.”

Mr. Foster said that the size of the depot and other details will be discussed at the Facilities Board Committee meeting this Thursday, September 15, at 8 p.m. The committee usually meets on the first Thursday of every month, but Mr. Foster said that additional meetings will be held to help speed the process.

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