Timetable on target for seeking bids on school construction

Point Road work
split into two phases
to avoid delay

By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

Point Road work
split into two phases
to avoid delay
By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

An artist’s rendering of an addition to the Markham Place School, Little Silver.An artist’s rendering of an addition to the Markham Place School, Little Silver.

LITTLE SILVER — They’re dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

The Board of Education has spent its last two meetings putting the finishing touches on the plans for new additions and renovations at the borough’s two public schools before placing the work out to bid.

Schools Superintendent Marjorie Heller said the district remains on track for going out to bid in October or November. She said a contract will be awarded in 30 days after that, sometime in November or December, and construction should begin soon after.

"We’re hoping the winter is again mild so that work can move ahead without any stoppage for the weather," she said.

She said work on both the Markham Place and Point Road schools would proceed simultaneously.

At its meeting Aug. 22, the board fine-tuned the plans for the Markham Place School with Tom Perraino, an architect with Thomas Kocubinski Associates of Lawrenceville, the architectural firm for the $13.85 million project; Joe Hanrahan of Schoor DePalma of Manalapan, the engineering firm for the project, and Keith Thompson of Vincentsen, Thompson, Meade of Westfield, the construction project manager. The plans for the Point Road School were fine-tuned at its previous meeting.

Both sets of plans are being submitted to Stanley Sickels, the borough construction official, for preliminary review to see if anything has been overlooked or should be changed before their formal submission.

With the infusion of $3.56 million in state school construction aid, the cost to be borne by borough taxpayers has been reduced to $10.29 million.

The board decided to split the Point Road School improvements into two phases so that construction wouldn’t be delayed after Hanrahan advised them that the parking lot is located over a flood plain and a stream encroachment permit would have to be obtained from the state Department of Environmental Protection. He said he expected that to take at least 60 days.

Not wanting to risk a delay in the start of construction on the building, the board split the parking lot off into a second phase in case the application to the DEP gets drawn out and drags on for as many as 90 days or more.

Heller said soil borings still must be made before going out to bid.

Heller was particularly impressed by the architect’s computer-generated rendering of what the front of the Markham Place School, which faces the downtown business district, will look like when done.

"It shows the blending of the new with the old Georgian building that everyone loves," she noted. "It’s interesting to see how well it blends.

"That will be very visible, looking up from town," she added. "The borough is doing a streetscape downtown, … and we’re going to use the same kind of lighting fixtures as they are using. I think this will pull together beautifully."

The board also has a rendering of what the Point Road School will look like.

"It’s very exciting to see what the new product looks like," Heller said.

Both schools will get a new gym, and the additions at them, taken together, will provide eight new classrooms — one for each grade from first through eighth — plus a host of small instructional spaces. The renovations planned include such basics as replacing the furnace and boiler, which are 40 to 50 years old, in the older Markham Place School.

Heller said the school district hopes to keep all the current facilities intact through next June while construction of the additions are under way.

Both this year’s and next year’s school schedule has been compressed to provide as long a period as possible next summer for the contractor to move into the existing schools and undertake the upgrades and renovations planned.

The schools will get out on June 13, a week or two earlier than usual, at the end of the current school year, thanks to shorter vacation periods during the school year, and won’t start in the fall of 2003 until a week after Labor Day.

"It’s designed to keep the summer as long as possible," Heller explained.

Heller said she and everyone else was anxious to move into the revamped schools when the finished product is ready for occupancy in fall 2004.

"We’ve occupied all the teachers’ rooms and the closets," she said of the present schools. "We’re just truly out of space."