Salamanca's $21.5M capital project proposed for May 17 ballot
By Kellen M. Quigley | Managing Editor
The Salamanca school community received its first look at the next $21.5 million phase of the district’s ongoing capital project, which will be on the ballot for voters May 17.
Superintendent Robert Breidenstein presented the project overview Tuesday during a special Board of Education meeting.
A majority of Phase 4 pertains to athletic site improvements on the Iroquois Drive campus, Breidenstein explained, most notably a new multi-purpose track and field, new tennis courts, a new turf softball field and renovations to the athletic grounds and support buildings.
“If you think of Vets Park and all of the stuff that’s there to support athletics, we’re looking at replicating that with a slightly different design because of the field orientations,” he said. “All of the support buildings at Vets will come onto the main campus to finish Phase 3 construction.”
This birds-eye view of the Salamanca school district’s Iroquois Drive campus shows what’s being planned for Phase 4 of its ongoing capital project.
Following the district’s Feb. 15 finance committee meeting, the project’s $21,489,881 price tag includes construction costs, a 15% design contingency, 24% escalation costs, a 7.5% construction contingency, 22% incidental fees and a 5% TERO fee.
“The important part for the community is that the $21.5 million comes at no impact to the tax levy,” Breidenstein said. “We will not come back to the community and say, ‘Can we please have more money?’ We are funding this with existing reserves and economic incentives that we have been planning for.”
Turner Construction is again the capital project construction firm the district will use, Breidenstein said, both for estimating the costs and managing the construction after approvals and accepted bids.
Along with the athletic upgrades, Phase 4 will include further roofing and site work, infrastructure upgrades on the main campus, most notably science rooms in Seneca Intermediate, and security upgrades, Breidenstein explained.
Some property acquisitions on Fern Avenue, Front Avenue and Hoy Street by the district in recent community votes will need demolition work done for the project, Breidenstein said. However, the district has decided those will be done internally rather than as part of the capital project.
“We didn’t think it was necessary to pay construction costs to demo buildings when we can do that much cheaper through our own contracting, through our buildings and grounds department with outside vendors,” he said.
The track will be stripped and expanded to eight lanes; a multipurpose turf field with soccer, lacrosse and football lines will go inside; and steeplechase, discus, shot put, pole vault and long jump areas will be built in and around the track, Breidenstein said.
“The current properties on Fern Avenue will be demoed by the district to make room for a 55-space additional parking lot to support the activities at the track and field,” he added. “The existing Greer building, which is buildings and grounds, will be renovated for concession stands and a spectator viewing area.”
The district is also looking at renovating a portion of the current bus garage on Front Avenue into locker rooms and team rooms for the track and field, Breidenstein said.
A new turf softball field will be built closer to the northwest corner of the high school. Breidenstein said the softball players and coaches overwhelmingly chose a turf field over grass to help extend the playability of the spring season.
“We’re also leaving a partial grass field,” he said. “In talking with athletics, we felt it was important for our athletes to have the ability to practice on grass fields because many school districts do not have the synthetic fields like we’d be recommending.”
South of the softball field is a new six-court tennis court area that can be used for pickle ball as well as spectator seating and new lights, Breidenstein explained.
In 2019, voters overwhelmingly approved a $35 million referendum that encompassed Phase 3 of the project, Breidenstein said. Since then, work that has been completed includes improvements to Veterans Memorial Park, the new Seneca Intermediate School parking lot and renovations to Prospect Elementary’s cafeteria and new HVAC. Still in progress are further additions and renovations to Prospect, a district office and Seneca Nation instructional suite addition at the high school and facade, roofing and site work at the Iroquois Drive campus.
Looking beyond Phase 4 and 2024, Breidenstein said district officials are considering looking at additional property leases or acquisitions for a new transportation facility as the district’s bus fleet has continued to increase.
“We definitely need a new transportation facility,” he said. “If you’ve gone by the building, you can see how congested it is and how much traffic is there. That presents a safety issue.”
The district is also looking at starting an early childhood program for children 3 and younger, which Breidenstein said is a need in the community. He said the district’s programs start for 4 year olds in Pre-K, but there is a gap for kids from birth to 3.
The Phase 4 referendum will be included in the regular district budget vote and school board elections from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 in the high school gym.