05/08/13 4:00pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead School District’s $78.3 million bond project approved by voters in 2011 remains on schedule with the exception of the high school, planning consultants said at Tuesday night.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead School District’s $78.3 million bond project approved by voters in 2011 remains on schedule with the exception of the high school, planning consultants said at Tuesday night.

The Riverhead School District’s $78.3 million bond project approved by voters in 2011 remains on schedule with the exception of the high school, planning consultants said at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

Larry Salvesen, an architect with BBS Architecture of Patchogue, updated the school board on the renovation work and said a delay in approvals from the state Department of Education has pushed back the high school’s completion date by a year. He estimates the state will sign off on the project shortly and work will be completed by the summer of 2015.

The school’s front entrance, auditorium seating, gym bleachers and library are slated for upgrades.

Work at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside, Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton and Aquebogue Elementary School will be completed by September, Mr. Salvesen said.

Parking lot reconfiguration, rubber-matting installation at playgrounds and classroom upgrades are planned for those elementary schools.

The school board held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in March at Phillips Avenue school, unveiling a new library and media center. The ceremony marked the first completed facility upgrade paid through the bond.

Riley Avenue school will undergo roof and kitchen work and Aquebogue school is getting a new kitchen.

Plans for renovation work at the middle school, Roanoke and Pulaski Street elementary schools are on schedule to receive final approvals, Mr. Salvesen said.

The district is hopeful a groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the middle school by the end of the year and by the spring of 2014 for Roanoke and Pulaski Street elementary schools.

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10/11/11 9:00am
10/11/2011 9:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | An artist's rendering of what Riverhead High School would look like if voters were to approve a $78.5 million bond for infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. today for taxpayers to decide the fate of a $78.3 million plan for infrastructure upgrades and improvements at Riverhead schools, also known as proposition one.

Voters will also be asked to consider proposition two, a $7 million plan for a new gymnasium at the high school. Proposition two is contingent on the passage of proposition one.

The bond would be paid for with taxpayer money over 22 years.

The approval of proposition one would fund roof and ventilation repairs at district schools, parking lot reconfigurations, new science classrooms at the high school and new kitchens at Aquebogue Elementary, Roanoke Avenue Elementary and Pulaski Street School, among other upgrades.

The plan calls for new building construction at all district schools except Phillips Avenue Elementary School.  The total breakdown of the plan is as follows: $3.8 million for upgrades at Aquebogue Elementary School; $4 million for upgrades at Phillips Avenue Elementary School; $5.7 million for upgrades at Riley Avenue Elementary School; $7.8 million for upgrades at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School; $7.9 million for upgrades at Pulaski Street School; $15.4 million for upgrades at Riverhead Middle School; $32.1 million for upgrades at Riverhead High School; and $1.6 million for upgrades at the main campus site.

Voting will be held until 9 p.m. at Riverhead High School, Phillips Avenue Elementary, Aquebogue Elementary and Riley Avenue Elementary, depending on residents’ voting district. Don’t know where to vote? Call 369-6708 or 369-6711.

The district will use about $3 million in repair reserve funds to offset the cost of proposition one. School officials estimate the project would be eligible for about $26 million to $29 million in state aid.

A homeowner whose home is valued at $280,000 can expect to pay an additional $40.09 in 2014 if the bond passes. That number will increase until $213.25 in 2017 and then decrease after 2033.

The bond would be paid off in 2036.

That same homeowner could expect to pay an additional $66.12 from 2014 until 2034 if proposition two was also passed.

The plan is down about $45 million from the $123 million plan for district improvements, which included turning the Roanoke Avenue School into an administration building, overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2010.

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04/14/11 1:09pm
04/14/2011 1:09 PM

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Representatives from BBS Architects and Engineers presented an $80 million plan to fix Riverhead schools.

Riverhead taxpayers served up a big fat “no” last time, but they might be asked again later this year to allow the school district to borrow millions to upgrade overcrowded buildings, some of which need structural repairs.

The district may ask for permission to borrow up to $80.2 million, nearly $43 million less than the $123 million bond proposal voters rejected last year.

That’s the plan unveiled last week by the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization team, a group of teachers, administrators and residents charged with preparing a new building improvement proposal. If the school board goes ahead with the plan, officials predict a vote would take place this fall.

District superintendent Nancy Carney and representatives from BBS Architects and Engineers of Patchogue presented total estimated figures for the capital improvement project during the committee’s monthly meeting last Wednesday night.
It was the first time all the numbers were presented publicly.

The plan calls for $80.2 million in spending, down from the $93 million architects first said a scaled-down version of the rejected plan would cost. Representatives from the firm insisted they were able to lower the cost without taking away any projects included in the $93 million plan.

“The only way we can come down from here is by taking away,” Ms. Carney said of the scaled back proposal when she addressed the committee and members of the public last week.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said the bond would most likely not be affected by the proposed 2 percent cap on annual tax levy increases, a measure that is expected to be passed into law in Albany later this year.

“It would be the only exception to pierce the cap,” he said, noting that the cap could be overridden by a super-majority of taxpayers.

He said the biggest obstacle the school district faces in getting the bond approved is the taxpayers.

“[The school district] would have to sell the Riverhead taxpayer on whether this is a good thing,” Mr. LaValle said. “If a person has $100 in their checking account and you’re telling them to write a check for $110, they don’t have the money.”

Mr. LaValle also said the Senate is exploring reforms to the Wicks Law, which requires local governments performing projects costing more than $50,000 to seek competitive bids from plumbing, electrical and HVAC contractors in addition to the general contractor. He called the Wicks changes, which could save money, a form of mandate relief.

If district officials hope to pass the plan, they will have to convince adamant critics like retiree Hal Lindstrom of Calverton. When the previous bond was being considered last year, Mr. Lindstrom printed 1,000 fliers pointing out what he thought were deficiencies in the plan and distributed those fliers to local residents, especially senior citizens.

He said this time around, he would be against any spending increase, especially if a plan called for building additions to the district’s existing schools.

“It seems that people in the school system feel that the taxpayers have an endless supply of money,” he said. “I just think the timing is wrong with the economy being so bad.”

Included in the plans are building new classrooms at Roanoke Aveneue Elementary, Riley Avenue Elementary and the middle school; a new cafeteria at Pulaski Street School; and a new kitchen at Aquebogue Elementary. The plan also calls for $35 million in upgrades to the high school, which would feature a new home and careers classroom and weight room, according to a copy of the blueprints obtained by the News-Review. Those plans were last updated March 2, so the price tags may have changed.

Not included in the plan, however, are $2.2 million in upgrades the committee defined as “wants,” such as security cameras at some district schools, repairs to the high school parking lot and replacing spotlights at the middle school.

The new plan also does not call for shutting down Roanoke Avenue Elementary school and reopening it as administrative offices, as was planned under the first bond proposal rejected last year. That bill would have been paid for with taxpayer money over 23 years.

The 35 revitalization team members who attended last Wednesday’s meeting did not agree on how to deal with the deteriorating roof at the district’s Osborn Avenue bus barn. One idea has been to put a separate $2.8 million bonding proposition on the ballot for money to renovate that building, including the roof. Another option has been building another facility somewhere else and using the space where the buses are now kept for athletic fields.

“The current bus garage is in really bad shape,” Ms. Carney said. “[But] if ultimately we don’t want it there, then I don’t want to throw $2 million at it.”

Many in attendance agreed the building is an eyesore.

“It would bring such continuity to the whole property,” school board member Amelia Lantz said of razing the garage and building another one elsewhere.

The committee is scheduled to meet again May 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Riverhead High School.

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