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SW High School Project
Likely to Be Delayed

By Dan Hust
JUNE 22, 2001 -- NARROWSBURG — Sullivan West’s centerpiece project may be put on hold for as long as a year, it was announced Thursday night at the regular board meeting in Narrowsburg.
The meeting itself featured a fair amount of heated, inflammatory talk between a group of residents and several board members, but all was quiet when Superintendent Michael Johndrow, in response to a question posed by Noel van Swol of Long Eddy, made the announcement.
“Because the bids came in high, our aggressive schedule [to build the new high school in Lake Huntington] . . . may not be possible,” he said. “The high school could be delayed up to a year.”
The announcement followed an earlier statement that renovations have not yet been started on the existing schools because the state education department has yet to approve them.
Johndrow had hoped that the board could award bids that evening to fully begin construction on the 134,000-square-foot, $28.7 million high school off Route 52, but he said in an interview on Friday that nine of the original 12 bids were ultimately rejected.
One bid for sitework – for $4,158,035 – has already been awarded to Leeward Construction of Honesdale, Pa., which is beginning clearing and leveling of the 68 acres upon which the school is to be built.
The remaining two bids – one for casework and millwork and one for telecommunications and network cabling – are awaiting review by the school’s construction management firm, Turner Construction Company, and the architect, the Hillier Group, said Johndrow.
“Those bids were both good bids,” he explained Friday. “But if it’s going to take us a lot longer [to build the school than planned], it’s not reasonable to award the bids.”
A determination on those bids may be made as early as this Thursday’s special board meeting, said Johndrow. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 7:30 p.m. at Narrowsburg.
So why was the one bid awarded? According to Johndrow, because sitework might as well be done now to allow for extra growth of needed grass on the athletic fields.
The original 12 bids collectively came in at more than $8 million over the target estimate of $28.7 million that school personnel have repeatedly said they are aiming for.
Johndrow added that the aggressiveness of the construction timeframe hurt the chances of better bids, since contractors indicated they would have to add on extra personnel and shifts to meet deadlines.
Johndrow had said before that Turner and Hillier were whittling down more expensive aspects of the project – like perhaps two types of brick instead of eight, or maybe no football field lighting – to bring them in line with the overall project budget of $49.9 million (new high school and renovations to existing facilities) that district residents approved last year.
However, with the potential exception of the aforementioned two bids (and the one already awarded), that evidently was not possible with the current bids, and so the rebidding process has been started.
Before a request for bids is published, however, Johndrow said that whittling process will continue until Turner, Hillier and the board are comfortable with the figures.
“They’re working hard on that now,” he said, adding that no change in size for classrooms, gyms or even the school itself is being considered.
The bids in question are for steel; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; plumbing; electrical wiring; roofing; theater (the auditorium) and equipment; kitchen equipment; and general contracting.
Once the rebidding process is officially started, said Johndrow, it will take approximately two months until bids can be awarded – if they’re within budget constraints.
And that, he remarked, is the key, as that period of time could determine whether the school is built as early as Christmas 2002 (a mid-year move is possible, Johndrow said) or as late as Fall 2003.
“It’s so difficult right now,” he said. “We just don’t know . . . [but] we’re still optimistic.”

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