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$28.8 million project put on ballot

Lewiston-Porter School District voters will decide in a May 16 referendum whether they want to spend $28.8 million for renovations to district buildings and property.

The School Board voted 7-0 Tuesday to put the matter up for a vote because much work is needed on the district's Creek Road campus since a lot has been let go over the years, said Board Vice President Louis M. Palmeri.

Board President David S. Schaubert said the multitude of projects can be paid for without hitting up property owners with tax increases. He said the district will borrow the money and use settlement money from the State Power Authority -- more than $750,000 a year for the next 50 years -- via a relicensing agreement and with the 72 percent in state building aid reimbursements to pay off the resulting debt.

The projects include spending $2.8 million to replace the roof on Lewiston-Porter Middle School along with replacing part of the Lewiston-Porter High School roof; about $1.8 million to construct a new entryway to the high school not only to define where a visitor should enter the school, but add security controlling who is coming into the building; and $3.3 million to renovate existing athletic fields, construct a new baseball stadium with lighting, and a lighted multipurpose field that can be used for football and soccer along with other improvements; $500,000 for the construction of a maintenance building and $1.8 million in renovations to the Community Resource Building, part of which would be converted into administrative offices.

Several residents campaigned to eliminate or modify some projects.

"I'm not convinced refurbishing the community resource building will be money well spent," Alan Ward said.

He said with only 2,460 students compared with 4,000 a number of years back, "We don't need this old building." He said the board would be better off spending the money on things that would benefit district students.

Niagara Pioneer Soccer League President Bob Dorian questioned plans to turn the soccer stadium into a multipurpose field with artificial turf. He said the district, which is not wanting for space, should have separate football and soccer fields. He also objected to artificial turf when less money would be spent to develop good fields with natural turf.

In other action, the board approved the re-establishment of a Public Advisory Fiscal Accountability Referendum by a 4-3 vote. The referendum also will appear on the May 16 ballot. The measure requires the board to hold a special district meeting and an advisory referendum whenever a contract between the district and an employee union or the superintendent results in an increase in spending in excess of $100,000. Board members Robert Laub, James Mezhir and Carol Rogers voted no.

The board also hired John F. Diodate as its new high school vice principal.


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