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Placid taxpayers may be asked for $21M in school renovations

LAKE PLACID – A long list of renovations and reconstruction of Lake Placid Central School District buildings were presented to the Board of Education Tuesday night and may go to voters, with a preliminary total cost running upward of $21 million.

John Jojo of Mosaic Associates and Scott Swenson of Engineered Solutions presented their study of the work: more than 50 items at Lake Placid Middle-High School, Lake Placid Elementary School, the North Elba Show Grounds and the Shipman Youth Center.

Jojo said a vote on the proposed work could take place as early as this spring, though construction wouldn’t commence until 2018 at the earliest, closing in January 2021.

“If it were to go smoothly, if the board thought it was a good project to move forward, we’re looking at a vote in the spring and then a long period of awaiting approval from the state Education Department and financing.

“(It’s) something that won’t hit taxpayers right away,” he added. “This district, like many, doesn’t entertain this lightly. There is a process, and there might be more culling of priorities.”

The items were separated into three capital project priority designations, 35 classified as “Priority One.” The cost of these items totaled more than $16 million, taking into account an estimated construction cost of $10.5 million.

One of the biggest-ticket items is upgrading the middle-high school heating system, a conversion of steam to hot water estimated at $2.35 million.

“The original heating system where the gym is now was upgraded in 2000,” Jojo said, “but the rest of the piping is from the ’30s. There has been a lot of issues with it over the years in the basement.”

An item that initially comes in with an estimated cost higher than the heating conversion is to reconstruct an 8-foot high retaining wall at School Street next to the Olympic Oval. The cost is estimated at $2.5 million, and Jojo said a retaining wall with a stamped kind of concrete with more of a rustic look, similar to what is done on highway overpasses, could be put there with a single monolithic pour. He added that a walkway above the retaining wall also needs repair.

“There is a number of issues that need to be addressed to stabilize that bank going forward,” he said.

Other top-priority items at the middle-high school include an estimated $425,000 to reconstruct the entrance ramp at the 1970 school addition and to add a canopy and walls to enclose it, $400,000 to overlay and re-seam the school’s 34,400-square-foot roof and to replace air handling units, unit ventilators, exhaust fans and roof vents throughout the school.

Solar roofing

After the presentation, board member Patti Gallagher asked if it would be possible, considering the school is renovating its roof, to look into solar paneling on the roof as well.

Jojo said he and Swenson could “certainly” look into using solar panels as part of the project. He said he’s done 15 solar paneling projects in the past three years, though the projects usually come with a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority or utility company grant. Jojo added that the village’s inexpensive electric rates make Lake Placid’s potential solar situation a little different.

“Because your electric rates are so low, I don’t know if we could make it pay back,” he said, “but we can look at it.” Jojo also said solar paneling on the school’s roof may be difficult for custodial staff to maintain in winter.

He recommended the district look into remote net metering, something the state Olympic Regional Development Authority recently entered into via a power purchase agreement with a power company and the town of Champlain.

“I just think we are going to need to answer that question,” Gallagher replied.

Jojo said he would provide the district with the contact information of a representative at the Scotia-Glenville Central School District in the Capital Region.

Auditorium facelift

In the middle-high school auditorium, Mosaic Associates proposes more than $700,000 of first and second-priority work to replace seating, the sound system and the balcony railing, something Jojo, Swenson and members of the board said is needed for safety’s sake.

Elementary school

Improvement at the elementary school, originally built in 1975, included 13 items of the first priority. An overlay of the 30,000-square-foot roof would be the most expensive at an estimated $360,000.

A building-wide replacement of windows and doors is estimated to cost $270,000.

Jojo and Swenson also proposed a first-priority digital improvement to ventilator thermostats, an upgrade to the building’s main electrical service and an upgrade to its interior power distribution that, in total, would run upward of $388,000.

Officials are also looking at a first-priority, $195,000 upgrade to one restroom. Board member Patricia Stanton asked whether the project should take into account construction of a facility that could be used as a gender-neutral restroom. Jojo said a faculty or staff room could become a space for such a facility.

The study for referendum also includes a high-priority resurfacing of the school’s track at the Show Grounds, as Jojo said it has three to five years left of usability. The creation of two tennis courts totaling $225,000 at the Shipman site was also listed as a third-priority item.