by Susan Mikula Campbell
Voters in the Niagara-Wheatfield Central School District will have a chance to learn more about a proposed $11.085 million bond issue at next week's Board of Education meeting.
Kerin Dumphrey, district business manager, said this week that he intends to present a "detailed report of all the things that are going to be done and why they need to be done."
He also hopes to have more information on the Greenway portion of the project that is contingent on the granting of Greenway funds.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. July 21 in the Adult Learning Center at Niagara-Wheatfield High School.
Last week, the board gave its approval to borrow the more than $11 million in funding needed for capital improvements at the district's schools and for the proposed Greenway environmental projects.
To go forward, the bond issue must gain the approval of district voters. That vote has been scheduled for noon to 8 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Adult Learning Center.
State building aid, Greenway funds and a minimal tax increase would pay for the projects.
"I know it's a hard time to ask taxpayers for anything additional," Dumphrey said. However, he added that he didn't see the cost to the taxpayers being more than 3 or 4 percent spread over three to four years (or about 1 percent per year).
"We'd really like to do this project now, while the state is still offering 86 percent in state building aid," he said. "I'm certain they can't afford to make that last. It may be our last chance to have such a high rate (of state aid)."
More than half of the project involves environmental projects almost entirely paid for by Power Authority Greenway funds and state funding.
The environmental project will involve a more than 2-mile nature trail around the high school/middle school campus starting at the headwaters of Cayuga Creek. Made available to the public, it will be a recreational, educational and beautification spot for the entire county and region, as well as being an environmental classroom for all the district's schools, Dumphrey said.
This portion of the project would include work at the nearby athletic fields, including resurfacing of the all-weather track, bleachers, storage facilities, outside locker room facilities, concession stand, security cameras and a playground for younger children. Existing facilities at the athletic fields would be brought up to code.
Again, these facilities would be open to the public. Dumphrey pointed out that there are more than 700 youngsters just in Niagara-Wheatfield Athletic Association programs (not part of regular school programs) who use N-W facilities.
"This would be a gathering place in a community that needs one," Dumphrey said.
The remainder of the bond issue would pay for capital projects such as a district media center with a new server and cooling system, roof repairs, plus technology upgrades for each of the schools.
At Edward Town Middle School, the entrance will get a facelift, including a snowmelt system for the front steps. Located on the shaded north side of the building, the steps can be a safety hazard in the winter.
At West Street Elementary, the funds would help convert the area previously used by BOCES classes.
Plans for Errick Road Elementary include a new gym floor and a stormwater drainage system.
Colonial Village Elementary would be the biggest project, with relocation of the main office to the west side and a new bus loop so the school has a single secure access site. The parking lot would be redone and drainage issues addressed, Dumphrey said.