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PROJECT PUT AT $2.9 MILLION

The Amherst Central School Board Tuesday decided to slightly scale back the size of two new playgrounds and set the cost of the district's proposed capital improvement project at $2.9 million.

The proposed project would include new playgrounds at Smallwood and Windermere Boulevard elementary schools. They will replace play facilities constructed of pressure-treated wood containing traces of arsenic.

Initially, the board targeted playgrounds capable of accommodating a maximum of 180 children.

During the meeting of the board on Oct. 5, board member David Stocking suggested reducing the size of those playgrounds to a capacity of 120 children, which would cut the cost of the project by about $100,000.

However, the board split on whether the smaller playgrounds would be sufficient. And board member Michele Scirto Flint recommended playgrounds capable of accommodating 150 children -- a $50,000 reduction from the original estimate.

The board unanimously approved the compromise, noting it would bring the cost of the capital projects below the $3 million mark and still provide flexibility.

"While I think the '120 size' would be adequate, this will give us a little freedom should our enrollment change," Stocking said.

The project will be put before voters on Dec. 15 and then go the state Department of Education for review. Construction could begin by spring.

The capital project also includes extensive renovations to the high school athletic field, roof repairs, and the replacement of asbestos flooring tiles. The district also is awaiting word on an insurance settlement for roof and gutter damage to the high school auditorium last year.

The district expects to receive about $100,000 in that settlement, said Mark Whyle, the district's director of administrative services.

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