Press-Republican

April 27, 2014

Malone officials endorse school's plan to get rid of eyesores

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Residents have two more chances to learn details about Malone Central School District’s plans to upgrade its transportation facility and demolish old buildings nearby.

Officials say, depending on assessments, the entire $15.9 million project will cost each property owner between 5 and 45 cents in additional taxes a year for 20 years, beginning in 2017.

Public-information sessions have been set for Monday, April 28, and Tuesday, May 13.

Voting on the construction project and annual budget will be held from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, in the high-school gymnasium lobby.

ROUSING ENDORSEMENT

Superintendent Jerry Griffin and Business Administrator Timothy Whipple gave Town Council members an overview recently and received a rousing endorsement of the district’s plans.

What was especially pleasing to Councilor Mary Scharf was the district’s willingness to allow the town to use the new facility’s washing station to help it prolong the life of its costly road equipment and vehicles, even though plans for the town to partner with Malone Central had fallen through.

Griffin outlined the two simultaneous projects, one of which would spend $9.5 million to upgrade the existing bus garage, which “is in dire need of improvement.”

He said roof-support beams are rusting out, heating systems are inefficient, and bus capacity is stretched to its limit.

Upgrades would convert heating to natural gas, via the pipeline that Enbridge-St. Lawrence Gas is building; add the bus-washing station; improve bus lifts; demolish much of the bus-service bays; reconfigure the bus-storage area; and add parking.

DILAPIDATED STRUCTURES

The other project, set at $6.5 million, would demolish buildings that formerly housed a state school for the deaf and North Country Community College.

Once the land is cleared, it would be converted into a full-size soccer field along College Avenue, with a paved parking lot at the corner of Willow Street.

State aid would pay for the demolition. The district would conduct “surgical” asbestos removal rather than collapsing the entire structures in on themselves, to avoid the expenses of trucking the debris to a far-off specialty landfill.

The dilapidated structures have become targets for vandals and the homeless and have raised concerns about student safety since many kids frequently pass the aging buildings, Griffin said.

“I feel we are the only ones to take those down and reuse the property,” he said.

SOLO PLAN

Harison gymnasium would be brought up to code since it is used by community groups and the school for activities, he said.

Griffin said some residents may have sentimental attachment to the old buildings, “but they are not what they once were.”

The Town and the Village of Malone were initially going to join the school in creating a shared transportation facility.

But when preliminary construction costs showed the town’s share at $2.6 million, the village’s portion at $2.8 million and $5.5 million for the district, the village backed out after learning only the school’s portion would be state-aid eligible.

The town and school continued to work on a shared facility as an addition to the Town Garage, but the Federal Aviation Administration would have required that the district obtain two appraisals and pay the town full-market value for the project’s land.

School officials said that path was too expensive and decided to do a solo plan, using portions of its existing bus garage and related buildings.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

TO LEARN MORE

Public-information sessions on the Malone Central School District plans will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 28, at the Malone Village Board meeting and at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the Franklin Academy High School auditorium as part of the annual school-budget public hearing.