Expansion Ideas Presented

Springs residents and officials reviewed the latest proposals for the long-sought expansion of the district’s school on Monday, hearing that taxpayers might be asked to approve between $14.7 million and $15.2 million next year in order for building to begin in 2019 and be completed by 2021.

 At the meeting of the Springs Board of Education, Kevin Walsh of B.B.S Architects and Engineering presented multiple expansion options, each resulting in approximately 23,500 square feet of additional space, a new gymnasium with bleachers, five new classrooms, several other rooms, and massive reconfiguration of existing spaces and exterior entrances and walkways.

The most expensive option would cost $16.9 million and the least expensive, $16.4 million. At various points in the planning process, construction had been estimated as high as $23 million and as low as $15.6 million. The figures that taxpayers might be asked to approve are based on possible reductions, one of which could come from applying the district’s $5 million capital reserve fund to the project. Doing so would also allow the district to add back certain improvements, including new roofing and windows, extended driveways, a new playing field, and a baseball pitch. Carl Fraser, the interim business administrator, pointed out that additional reductions might be found by applying for New York State assistance.

Another expense the district expects to face is upgrading the school’s septic system, which dates to the 1970s. According to Dan Newman, the  chief custodian, problems with the system were investigated about two weeks ago, after a smell near one of the driveways was reported. It was determined, he said, that the outdated system is “functioning but not drawing,” that the problem was “all about flow and pitch.”

Residents at the meeting voiced concern about the polluting effects of the system and urged officials to look into upgrading it to a nitrogen-mitigating system, such as those being discussed by the Suffolk County Legislature.

Tim Frazier, the board’s vice president, agreed wholeheartedly, saying, “We must look into the best system possible here to protect our environment.” Ira Barocas, a Springs resident, added, “It would be shortsighted of the community not to approve a state-of-the-art system that will protect the water around us.” Mr. Newman suggested the district use a stop-gap measure while long-term solutions are explored.