In a welcome change of pace, members of the Southington Middle School Building Committee are handling a different kind of financial problem – what to do with a sudden and unexpected $60,000 available due to a change in state requirements.
Dan Casinelli, a principal with the architecture firm Fletcher Thompson, said that discussions during a state review of plans for renovations at DePaolo Middle School last week revealed that a handicap requirement that would have forced the town to install handicap lifts in the school’s auditorium, as well as at Kennedy Middle School, is no longer required.
And the change means a savings of $30,000 in each school for the town – money that will go back into the project to install a fully functional generator at DePaolo to allow the school to serve as an emergency shelter for the community.
“Not only did they find that it wasn’t needed, they didn’t like the idea of the handicap lift because it draws too much attention to the handicapped person who would be using it,” said Edward Pocock Jr., chairman of the Middle School Building Committee. “This is a ‘good news’ item and it gives us options.”
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For a project that had previously been plagued with growing unexpected costs associated with PCB remediation and other environmental cleanup needs, it was a good problem to have, Pocock said.
The committee initially decided to leave the decision on whether to keep the lifts or use the money to purchase a generator up to School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. That decision, which involved eliminating the lifts, was made Wednesday according to a letter from Southington Schools Operations Director Fred Cox to Southington Town Attorney Mark Sciota.
Cox said in the letter that the school district is in favor of purchasing the generator instead, a decision designed to further enhance a partnership between the school district and towns that has been built in recent years.
“The Superintendent endorses the idea and asked me to create a letter to the (Connecticut Bureau of School Facilities) requesting relief from that lift requirement,” Cox said.
“Since the district is also asking for an exception to the floor slope in the auditorium by indicating a trained staff person will always be available to assist handicapped individuals we can provide the same service (by that same individual) for access to the stage platform,” he said.
The trained individual(s) are required under state law for any projects that choose to eliminate the lift.
The letters on both projects will be delivered to the BSF on Monday.
Pocock said he would have been happy with the decision either way, but is excited that the committee was able to recognize a new opportunity after the generator was removed as part of more than $10 million in project reductions made during countless hours of value engineering by members of the committee.
“If lose power and have all the emergency lighting in use, the batteries associated with them would only last a certain period and they would all have to replace all. It could become a serious maintenance issue. This is a viable and proactive solution,” he said.
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