Riverhead Schools to create bus barn committee

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07/24/2013 6:00 AM |
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BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead School District plans to form a committee to decide if the district should keep its bus facility in Riverhead or relocate it.

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney said Tuesday the district is planning to form a committee tasked with finding a solution to deal with the district’s crumbling bus barn.

Ms. Carney said during the school board’s regular meeting that residents will be invited to join the committee and further details about the volunteer group will be released in September through a press release.

The maintenance and storage facility located between district athletic fields on Harrison Avenue in Riverhead was first built in 1920 to house horses and has fallen into despair. Discussions on what to do with it had been put on the back burner due to budget constraints, Ms. Carney has said. (The district posted photos of the dilapidated condition of the facility earlier this year on its website.)

Residents voted down a May 21 proposition that would have allowed the district to acquire two properties adjacent to Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside. The deal would have given the district access to a nearby industrial park, and then to Route 24.

The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association opposed the project because it believed a school bus facility’s tax exemption goes against a revitalization plan nearly a decade in the making. After association members claimed the district failed to include the community in the planning process, it organized a campaign to have the Riverside land deal defeated.

When asked by a reporter if the Riverside location is officially off the table, Ms. Carney said the district will look into it again if the committee decides that the location is the best place for the bus garage.

“That’s the only way,” she said. “We’re going to brainstorm what are our options are: finding a place to move it to or renovating it in its place.”

Ms. Carney said the community-based planning process will be similar to the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization committee, known as CPR, which was made up of district residents and employees. The volunteer group was asked to revise an infrastructure upgrade plan after the district’s proposed bond project was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2010. Residents ultimately approved a $78.3 million capital improvement bond project in 2011.

Ms. Carney updated the school board about those bond projects during Tuesday night’s meeting and said construction at Phillips Avenue, Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools is under way and detailed upcoming projects planned for the high school.

Reconfiguration of bus loops is being done at Riley Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools, a sidewalk is being added to Edgar Avenue near the Aquebogue school and the second part of Phillips Avenue’s playground is being completed, she said.

The elementary schools will also receive new windows through an energy performance contract, which Ms. Carney said is separate from the voter-approved bond.

As for the high school, the front parking area and entrance will be closed once construction begins within the next two weeks, she said. The original auditorium is slated to get new flooring and seating. New flooring and bleachers are also being installed in the gym, Ms. Carney said.

“We’re in full construction mode,” she said. “There’s an incredible amount of work going on and we’re excited that we’re going to have buildings that look brand new come September.”

jennifer@timesreview.com