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Changes bring renovation price down by $5 million

December 14, 2011
ALTON — The Alton Buildings and Grounds Committee met on Thursday, Dec. 8, to discuss changes to the proposed renovation to Alton Central School.

The committee requested that Chip Krause, the architect on the project, remove the gym and take out the geothermal system, which will be included in a separate warrant article.

With the removal of the geothermal system and a new gym, an estimated 10,050 square feet, the price of the project was greatly reduced.

According to Krause, the estimated cost of the project now has a range between $16,493,212 and $21,108,018.

The range is due to the variable of the cost per square foot for new building space and renovated building space.

The elimination of the gym and geothermal from the main project reduced the cost by nearly $5 million.

The removal of the gym also reduced the total cost of the geothermal system, which will now have a total cost of $1.75 million instead of $1.85 million. This number will be presented in a separate warrant article.

The committee received an update from business administrator Kathy O'Blenes on the bond rate for the proposed renovation.

The interest rate discussed previously was 5.25 percent, but O'Blenes presented a new conservative rate of 4.0 percent.

Holt talked to the board about having everything in the project that is needed.

"What are the sections that you have to do, what are the sections that you can do and what are the sections that you might do?" Holt said. "You also have to look at what the voters will pass."

Holt talked about the security issues that modular trailers present at the school, and the fact that the modulars need to be replaced in the future if they are kept, with a total cost of $2.5 million.

There was some discussion again about breaking the project down into just the three-story addition and other small portions, but Krause cautioned the board on this approach.

"If you start breaking the project into little pieces, you have to add numbers to the total cost," Krause said. "It's going to be more money in the long run."

Holt talked about the geothermal heating system and the cost savings associated with it.

"I think the hard part is convincing people in town who aren't in favor of geothermal," Holt said. "It's a science and trying to the concept is a hard thing to do."

Krause reported that the new system at Kingswood is reducing the energy cost by about 40 percent of the normal energy cost.

School board member Sandy Wyatt emphasized that the school needs be upgraded.

"We need to do what has to be done," Wyatt said. "We need the space, we need to fix the roof and we need to get rid of those modulars."

Steve Parker, a member of the committee, asked about the threshold of the school would be with the changes to plan.

With the removal of the gym, the consumer life sciences classrooms would be placed on the first floor of the new three-story addition and all three floors would be used for classrooms.

The new maximum threshold would be 725 students, which is reduced from a previous maximum of 800 students.

With a current population of around 550 students, that allows for a buffer of 175 students.

Krause said that the third floor would be partially finished, with half of it being unfinished that could provide four more classrooms in the future.

Holt and Krause had a discussion about building up as opposed to building out, and Krause and Holt agreed that it is cheaper to build up than building out.

Chair Marilyn Dame asked Lynda Goossens, a member of the school board, if the warrant articles have been presented to the budget committee.

Goossens said all of the articles except the article involving the geothermal system have been presented to the budget committee.

Holt announced that the school board would be meeting again with the budget committee to give them an updated list of the warrant articles and more details about the project including the updated bond rate.

During public input, Bob Longabaugh suggested that an additional warrant article that would give the voters the option of adding on the gym to the project should be presented.

The committee briefly discussed this, but they never ruled in favor or against drafting a separate warrant article that would add the gym to the project.

A request was made by a parent to receive an updated list of maintenance issues at ACS.

Holt agreed to gather input from committee members regarding maintenance issues and information from Jack Allen, buildings and grounds director, and make that available to the public.

Members of the committee encouraged that this information should be available through the school Web site.

Longabaugh suggested that he could film a 30-minute infomercial detailing problems at the school that could run on the local public access television station.

He suggested that copies of this video could also be made available for loan at the Gilman Library.

Krause reported that 65 percent of the project cost for the renovation is for fixing issues with the current school and that 35 percent if for new construction at ACS.

He also explained that out of the 35 percent for new space, about five percent is for future space.

The buildings and grounds committee won't be meeting again until after the first of the year, and a date hasn't been set for their next meeting.

The above meeting was video recorded and is presently showing on LRPA-TV's Cable Channel 26; consult Channel 24 at the top of the hour or visit www.lrpa.org and click on "Schedule" for program times. There is also a DVD available for loan at the Gilman Library, courtesy of Bob and MaryBee Longabaugh.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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