Tonawanda News

July 25, 2012

Capital project set to begin in March

By Jessica Bagley, jessica.bagley@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — The City of Tonawanda school board hosted a workshop meeting Tuesday evening to hear updates on the district’s $11.9 million capital project. Pike Co. Inc., the construction firm managing the job, and Wendel, the architects for the project, attended the meeting to answer questions. 

Representatives from both companies said ground will be broken in March, and bids will be out by early winter.

“The winter bid will be very good for us,” Pike representative Peter Buckley said. “People will be hungry and trying to make their schedules for the upcoming year.” 

Buckley said the football field will be complete by August 2013, and he’s hoping the music wing will also be finished by then, but said it may take until September or October.

Brian Brady of Wendel said they are wrapping up the construction document phase of the project and will be sending their documents to the State Department of Education in three or four weeks. It will take them 14 to 16 weeks to review and approve the project.

“We were disappointed with how long that would take. It’s three or four times as long as we had planned for,” Brady said.

Work will begin earlier on the replacement of Mullen elementary’s roof, however, which will be complete by the start of school in September. The Riverview roof, which is getting repairs, will be replaced next summer.

“The delay in the timetable due to the state encouraged us to start the roofing work,” Brady said. “We wanted to show action and activity, but the roofs also just really needed it.”

The roofs weren’t included in the early estimates for the project’s budget, and board member Demelt Shaw questioned whether the amount authorized by voters would be enough to cover the total cost.

“I’m wondering if we asked for enough,” Shaw said. “As we see problems in the future like this, it may create some hesitation and questioning.”

Buckley said he doesn’t see any current money shortfall, but did say there will always be money difficulties in a project of this magnitude. 

“We do need to set aside money for change orders,” Buckley said. “Things pop up, but dollars don’t change, and there are not pools of extra money laying around. But part of our jobs is to make it within the designated amount.” 

Buckley also said the public voted on the right amount of money for the project, and that the city shouldn’t have asked for too much more when considering the state of the economy. 

Board members also discussed updating the district’s website to reflect the current goals of the project, as the site’s images are not up-to-date, and include renovations — like the high school’s art wing — that were dropped along the way.

“We determined that we couldn’t do the art wing under budget,”  Brady said. “So we went back to the teachers to talk about it, and they said they liked where they were, and they didn’t want to move anyway. Part of it is budgetary, but part of it is also just pragmatics, too.”

Brady also said population projections for the school are not supposed to increase enough to justify such a large addition, either. 

“Projects evolve, that’s just the way it is,” Brady said. 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.