Springs School Officials Detail Proposed $2 Million Capital Project

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The Springs School Board on Monday night presented details of a proposed $2 million capital project to create a new parking area, improve a drop-off and pick-up lane, move ball fields, pave a play area and improve Ed Hults Lane.

The measure will go before voters next month.

Last week, the School Board voted to advance the proposition, despite some community members’ concerns that they had not yet seen specific plans for the improvements. This week, Liz Mendelman, the School Board president, said the project was important for the community.

Every morning and afternoon, when parents drop off and pick up their students, the parking lot and streets surrounding the school become busy and congested, with kids darting around cars to get to and from the school building, according to Ms. Mendelman.

“You need to be out there every day to see what’s going on,” she said. “At some point in time we have to step up to the plate and solve the problem. It will address many of the issues—number one, which is keeping our kids safe. If I walked off this board and didn’t solve these problems, I would feel like I didn’t do my job. We owe it to the kids and the parents in our community to make it safer.”

According to the School Board and its architectural firm, Burton, Behrendt and Smith of Patchogue, the project would alleviate traffic jams that happen around the school and on its campus and would improve safety for students going to and getting out of school by reconfiguring the parking and pick-up and drop-off areas.

The improvements would include moving the school’s softball and baseball fields next to an outdoor recreational space and adding more parking in their place. The project would better configure school parking lot and the drop-off and pick-up point for students so that they enter and exit cars from a sidewalk.

There would be a turning lane on Old Stone Highway, and Ed Hults Lane would be widened, too, making it easier for parents to drive in and out. School Board members said it is likely that police officers would help direct traffic in the morning and afternoon rush.

Buses would still enter and exit the premises from School Street.

The project would also include grading, drainage, curbing, adding signs and doing other incidental work, but those specifics would be decided after taxpayers approved the project.

Last week, the School Board declared the project would be a Type II action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning that it would not have a significant adverse impact on the environment and not require further review.

According to Roger Smith of Burton, Behrendt and Smith, the new parking area would cost approximately $915,000, including construction and contingency fees, the Ed Hults Lane improvements would cost about $480,500, the new drop-off and pick-up lane would cost about $255,750, moving the ball fields would cost $155,000 and paving the playground would cost $193,750. The pieces of the project would be put out to bid separately.

Although it is separate from the school expansion project that Burton, Behrendt and Smith drafted for the future, the current project would fit with the expansion if it moves forward.

Additionally, Mr. Smith noted that taxpayers in 2006 approved a proposition to release up to $450,000—half would be borrowed and the other half would have been paid with a grant—to build a regulation 90-foot baseball field, a project the district may want to move forward with now.

The field went through the SEQRA process and was not deemed a risk to the environment. Mr. Smith said that votes are good for 10 years and that the School Board may want to revisit the plan within the next 12 months, although it is not part of the school’s proposition this budget season.

“This is a stand-alone project, and you would be funding it separately,” Mr. Smith said of the parking project. “Our mission is to develop this and make it a safer and a better property. You need to hold on to every piece of ground you’ve got with floor tile in it, because you need every space you have that you’re presently using.”

The district’s budget hearing is slated for Monday, May 11, at 6 p.m.

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