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Board will put $29.5 million project to vote

The Lockport School Board is preparing to ask the public to approve spending $29.5 million on renovations and additions to Lockport Senior High School in a December referendum.

Six of seven members present at a special meeting Wednesday said they favored holding a public referendum on the project.

They came to that decision after hearing presentations on the project from the district's architect, financial adviser and bond counsel, and after learning the entire project could be done without affecting local taxpayers.

Only member Alan Jack opposed it because of the nation's fiscal crisis and the uncertainty of the economy. "It's the right project at the wrong time," he said. Board President Marietta Schrader and member David Nemi were unable to attend.

Reviewing project plans and the district's financial situation to its satisfaction, the board directed Jeffrey Stone, its bond counsel, to prepare the paperwork to run newspaper ads announcing a Dec. 16 referendum on the project.

Stone will present that announcement to the board during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the district administration building, 130 Beattie Ave.

At that time, the board will continue to discuss the project and then vote on whether to schedule the referendum, acting Board President John A. Linderman said.

He said when Stone returns next week he will give the board two referendum options to consider.

The first will call for a public vote on one proposition to spend the entire $29.5 million for the work. The second will contain two propositions to be voted on separately. The first would be to spend $23.5 million on all the proposed renovations and additions to the school building. The second would be for spending $6 million in improvements to the outdoor athletic facilities behind the school, including the construction of a new football stadium with a synthetic turf field that also could be used for lacrosse and soccer.

Architect Jerry D. Young said the school renovations include work ranging from the installation of new ventilation and heating units in classrooms and energy-saving double-pane windows, upgraded restrooms, the addition of a new elevator and the widening of the narrow and often congested hallway outside the cafeteria to new bathrooms in various areas.

He said the additions include the creation of a performing arts center on the school's east side. It would include the complete renovation of the school auditorium including new seats with stadium seating. It would expand the building out toward Locust Street.

Young said plans call for a new, two-level fitness facility added to the back of the school complete with a fitness center, athletic offices and a storage area. The area would occupy 2,000 square feet.

Also, he said plans call for the addition of a new, six classroom wing to the west end of the building, and for the technology wing to be modernized with 21st century equipment.

The project would be paid for with $544,000 in state Expanding Our Childrens' Education and Learning funds, 89 percent in state building reimbursement funds and more than $3 million in district capital reserve funds.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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