Salamanca capital projects on target

The ongoing capital improvement project by the Salamanca City Central School District is on target for completion of some new structures, such as the new STEAM addition to the high school, for students and staff to occupy this fall.

SALAMANCA — The ongoing capital improvement project by the Salamanca City Central School District is on schedule for tentative completion dates while discussions for the latest one approved last month continue.

A groundbreaking ceremony for work at Prospect Elementary School, occurring over the summer, was held Wednesday morning, just two weeks after district residents approved a $34.7 million project to continue improvements at several school sites as well as renovate Veterans Memorial Park.

District Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said all phase one work is expected to be on target for the updated completion dates, including opening the new Seneca Intermediate School office addition before classes begin in the fall.

In the high school, the structure of the STEAM addition is up and Breidenstein said they expect the flooring to be installed soon, weather permitting.

“They’re already working on some of the brickwork to enclose the actual spaces, so that’s coming along well,” he said. As of last week, the high school portion of the project was about a third of the way done.

Few delays in the past 12 months, including some weather and soil concerns at the high school as well as having to re-bid part of the Prospect work, has pushed the opening dates back slightly, Breidenstein explained. Originally expected to be open before students returned, the spaces should be available for students by October.

“It’ll be very busy this summer,” he said. “We’ll still have programs, but we’ve shifted a large portion of the programs to Seneca. I don’t think there’s anything scheduled at Prospect for kids.”

Other than that, he said there were no other issues with the project. He said a design contingency was built into the budget, but only 15 percent of it has been used so far.

Following the expected groundbreaking Wednesday, Breidenstein said work that won’t interfere with classes at Prospect would begin within the next couple weeks. Following the last day of school, gutting the main offices and nurse’s station would begin, then switching locations with the library and computer lab.

Also over the summer, moving the Seneca Intermediate office out of its current location to renovate that area, as well as two classrooms, into a multipurpose room would take place, he said. The Seneca technology room and high school art rooms will also be renovated then, with the latter becoming a community fitness center.

“We might have a couple of weeks of limbo once the kids first start the school year, but we’ll be packing things up as soon as the kids leave at the end of this school year so we can have a quick transition into their brand new spaces,” Breidenstein added.

CONCERNING THE next capital project, Breidenstein said a couple of planning meetings have already taken place since the May 21 vote.

Planners, designers, coaches, athletes, building and ground staff, powwow planners and others took part in a full day of helping further finalize designs for the project, he said. Later next week, another meeting is set with Turner Construction and HUNT engineers to look at estimates.

“We’ll talk about costs, we’ll take a look at the design comments the engineers have come back with and the construction management folks will weigh in on the design as presented to make sure there are no concerns,” Breidenstein said.

Then, the designs will go back to the architects again for another round of adjusting and fine-tuning. He said plans usually go back and forth about three times to get everything right.

So as not to have the bidding issues experienced with the ongoing project, which came in higher than initially expected, Breidenstein said they hope to keep the phases of the next project smaller and more focused when submitting to the State Education Department, which could greatly reduce approval process time.

“With a reduced timetable at State Ed, we’ll get out to the marketplace faster, which should reduce escalation costs significantly and keep it on target from a budget perspective,” he said. Going through a third party review process could also speed things along, Breidenstein added.

The only possible effects the projects could have on the greater community is the work on all district parking lots in the summer of 2020. Additionally, Breidenstein said when excavation begins for the various fields next year, the topography of the land will look different, but shouldn’t affect roads in the area.

“It is a lot,” he added. “There is a lot going on.”

A complete update and review of the project could be presented at a future board meeting, Breidenstein said, which could be as soon as July 2.

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