Asbestos discovered in OCS auditorium
By Jay Braman Jr.
After a stall earlier this month, the $1.2 million auditorium renovation project at the Onteora High School is back on track following bid awards made by the school board last Wednesday.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that asbestos has been discovered in the auditorium.
Onteora District Superintendent Dr. Leslie Ford announced the news on Friday, saying it came as surprise.
According to Ford, the asbestos is an ingredient of floor tiles in the auditorium, long covered over by carpeting.
School Board President Maxanne Resnick said the tiles, about 2,000 square feet of them, are similar to ones in hallway that are gradually being removed since being discovered in 2005. The hall tiles, well maintained, have posed no health threat.
“We hope to remove the auditorium tiles over the break,” Resnick said, referring to the spring recess that starts on April 4 and runs through April 12.
Slated to begin back in January, with a completion date set for this September, it was announced weeks ago that the auditorium project had been stalled because bids for the work came in at $160,000 above the amount of funds available for the job.
Onteora District Super-intendent Dr. Leslie Ford said it was decided that those bids would be rejected and the bid process would begin again, but the second time around contractors were asked to recommend less expensive alternatives.
On Friday Dr. Ford said that it was backstage side of the project that suffered the cuts.
When first proposed, the auditorium project included all new seating, carpeting, stage and house lights, a paint job, air conditioning, a new sound system, a motorized projection screen, all new stage rigging and more.
To reduce the project’s costs to below the $1.2 million mark, the stage rigging has been eliminated. So has some new stage lighting and electrical winches to hoist lighting equipment. Plans for some improvements to the projection room have also been scrapped. These elements may find a way back in the project, Ford said, but the district must find the additional funds elsewhere.
Another option, Ford said, is that the district is on the state-approved list as being a shovel-ready project and could qualify for stimulus money. It remains unclear whether such funding would take care of the entire project or just the shortfall, but Ford said time would tell.
Even with the start delay, the curtain may go up on the completed project on time.
Ford said the district hoped the job would be done so that students had a new auditorium on the first day of school. That is still the goal, she said, but added that it would be acceptable for the project to run into October.
Bids accepted on Wednesday are as follows:
Contract No. 1 General Construction Work to Transitional Builders Inc. in the sum of $395,950.
Contract No. 2 Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Work to DJ Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. in the sum of $404,500.
Contract No. 3 Electrical Work to Sausto Contracting Inc. in the sum of $318,418.
The vote awarding the bids was unanimous for those present. Trustee Ann McGillicuddy was absent.