By Tessa Raebeck
Residents joined Sag Harbor School District personnel January 8 for a series of workshops reviewing plans for the district’s capital improvement projects, which were approved at the polls by the community on November 13 as part of a nearly $9 million bond.
The day included seven workshops dedicated to specific areas of the bond and culminated with a meeting of the Educational Facilities Planning Committee (EFPC).
At that meeting, Rob Calvert, a Sag Harbor resident with school site planning experience, questioned the validity of the parking lot plans for the Jermain Avenue lot at Pierson Middle/High School and the Hampton Street lot at the Sag Harbor Elementary School (SHES), asking whether the plans sufficiently accommodate large vehicles.
District architect Larry Salvesen said all parking lot plans are at this point still conceptual, as survey work has not yet been done. Surveying could not begin until the passing of the bond funded the work. At Monday’s board of education (BOE) meeting, a bid for surveying services in the amount of $22,650 was awarded to L.K. McLean Associates in Brookhaven. Salvesen said the survey work will be completed in March.
“We used the best information we have to get to where we are,” said Salvesen. “But we need true accurate survey information to make the next steps.”
School personnel who use the respective spaces provided feedback during the workshops and will meet with administrators to give more input in the coming weeks.
“The key meetings at the school level will be with the school personnel who are affiliated with certain aspects of the bond,” Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent for the district, said Monday.
The custodial staff at SHES suggested adding outdoor access to the storage room addition in the gymnasium and teachers at Pierson asked whether a projector screen could be installed behind the stage to ease set construction.
The renovations to the Pierson basement, which houses the shop/technology curriculum, will take into account the growing robotics program.
“We’re talking about improving the area so it fits into the curriculum now,” said Dr. Bonuso, who will host in-depth meetings with Salvesen and members of the staff who use each space on a daily basis in the coming weeks.
The district had originally planned to send different components of the bond, i.e. the field or the auditorium renovations, to the State Education Department for approval separately, with the intention of speeding the review process, which can last up to 26 weeks. Those plans have been revised and the district now plans to send all components as part of one package in September.
At Monday’s board meeting, Sag Harbor resident Diane Hewett asked whether the turf field “could be scaled back at this point.” The installation of a turf field and two-lane walking track behind Pierson was a separate proposition of the bond that narrowly earned voter approval this fall.
“We have already made the decision,” responded Dr. Bonuso, “to turf the field in the manner we’ve described. So it’s going from corner to corner, that’s a decision that has been made.”
Hewett asked why the parking plans could be revised, while the turf proposal was seemingly set in stone.
The administrators responded that the bond proposition specified the extent of the turf and the community voted on that plan, whereas the parking lot plans were presented as conceptual.
Board member and parent Sandi Kruel added the proposed revisions to the parking plans had been discussed prior to the vote.
“The notion that was presented to the voters,” said David Diskin, a member of the BOE, “was we were going to put a turf field from one part to the other and the voters agreed.”
BOE Member Mary Anne Miller told the administrators the public had voiced concerns that the type of turf material being used may be poisonous or dangerous for kids.
Athletic Director Todd Gulluscio assured, “there are multiple grades of turf” and the materials the district chooses to use will not be harmful.
The next EFPC meetings are scheduled for January 30 and February 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.