Great Neck schools need $51.7M in fixes: architect

Architects from Patchogue-based BBS Architecture presented the Great Neck school community with details of a proposed bond referendum to address the district’s estimated $51.7 million in capital needs.
Roger Smith, BBS’ principal architect, said at last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting that he and representatives from the company have worked with Great Neck school employees and the district’s Facility Committee to determine the critical needs of the district’s 18 school buildings.
“You see this and it all looks like it happened overnight and it didn’t,” board president Barbara Berkowitz said. “It took months and months of going to every single building in our district to determine what are the most urgent needs for every one of our buildings.”
Smith said the projects that would be included if the bond referendum is approved by voters would pertain to roof replacements, masonry repairs and window and door replacements.
In total, he said, the project is estimated to cost about $51.7 million.
Smith said that total is an “all in” number, meaning it includes construction costs, possible contingencies and other fees associated with the capital projects. It is also determined based on public contract bidding.
Berkowitz admitted it was “painful” to see the large cost for the projects, but said they were all necessary to ensure the safety of those who work in, attend or come to the district’s buildings.
“But they have major importance because it’s an environment you’re all in for a major part of your awake hours of everyday, whether it’s staff or whether it’s students alike,” she said. “And we need to think about what’s safe and what is going to also make our buildings sustainable for the next couple of decades while this bond is in effect.”
Smith said roof reconstruction was one of the “larger pieces” of the proposal, as many of the district’s roofs were damaged or have moss growing due to water infiltration.
He said the roof work is expected to last the district between 25 and 30 years.
Smith said many of the windows and doors in the district are “truly past their life expectancy.”
He said window replacement work should last the district between 40 and 50 years.
There are many cracks in the brick walls of some of the district’s buildings, Smith said, and BBS would remove and replace bricks to fix the exterior of the buildings.
He said the masonry work should last the district between 40 and 50 years.
Smith said  all of the capital projects cannot be done in one summer.
Berkowitz said the district will ensure that no construction work interferes with the students’ education.
“These are things that need to be done and scheduled in the best way possible to not disrupt education,” she said. “So whether it be on weekends, whether it be on vacations, whether it be in the summer, these all have to be scheduled in a certain way so it doesn’t disrupt education.”
The district is scheduled to hold another presentation on the proposed bond referendum on Nov. 14, which will focus on “educational enhancement.”
By Dec. 12, the board needs to adopt a state environmental quality review act determination for the projects and a bond referendum resolution to move forward with the plan.
Throughout January and February 2017, there will be further bond referendum presentations and informational meetings.
The district has scheduled a vote for Feb. 14, 2017, on the proposed capital projects.

By Joe Nikic

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