Tonawanda News

The City

March 1, 2013

FALLING FLAT

Tonawanda News — After months of the Tonawanda school board and project manager insisting that the district’s capital project would go on without a hitch, both parties struggled Thursday to explain to frustrated residents why one of the construction bids came in drastically over budget — and why the planned music wing expansion is now in peril.

“We made promises to you folks,” school board Vice President Demelt Shaw said. “You got a pamphlet, and we told you we’ve been approved to do this, and this, and this ... we’re not going to be able to keep those promises.”

Thursday’s public meeting comes after Project Director Peter Buckley, of Pike Co., told the school board Tuesday that general construction bids for the addition of the music wing and renovations on offices and a locker room came in more than $500,000 over the $3.689 million budget. 

The overages don’t affect the separate bid for a planned new football stadium, which came in or under budget and will go forward as planned.

Board members and residents said they didn’t understand why the bids came in so high and voiced their anger Thursday. 

“We are in the dark as taxpayers,” said Don Holler. “We don’t know what’s really going on. Everyone tells me, ‘everything is good,’ but look where we are today.’”

In response, Gloria Ciminelli, of Pike Co., said that the reasons for the overages are “hard to fathom,” and didn’t have any specific explanations for why it happened.

“We had a good pool of applicants — seven,” she said. “And they were all very close to each other, telling us this is really what it would cost.” 

Brian Brady, of architectural firm Wendel, presented the current options to the audience. 

Brady said the board could go back to the community and ask for more money to build the project exactly as planned; to proceed with the addition but make changes to the drawings to save money; or renovate the existing music rooms instead of creating an addition.

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