Walkthrough part of Gowanda capital project

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew Kuczkowski Shawn P. Wright, AIA, points at a projection screen describing points of the $41.5 million capital project. Wright, of Young and Wright Architectural firm, answered questions from the community's previous concerns within the diverse project.

GOWANDA – In an effort to get more details on the project, the Gowanda Board of Education brought in Young and Wright Architectural to answer the community’s previous questions on the $41.5 million capital project. Matthew N. Cummings and Shawn P. Wright, AIA, of the architectural firm fielded questions.

The one aspect that nullified better description requested at the Jan. 31 meeting is that at this point during a capital project, specific designs are not elaborate. If school districts spend money to have designs finalized and the community votes down the project, then the district cannot receive its money back. Capital projects in the area follow suit with the timeline of: building survey, discuss issues, gain funds, have board agree that funds are accurately budgeted with engineers, put out to vote and, if approved, move forward and vice versa if not.

With that in mind, designs of Gowanda’s projected secure entrances (which are a part of the project) are not completed at this point and same goes with other aspects like the library media center. This dispute between the community wanting more designs of this phase of the project created issues with some members arguing projected costs are too low and may impact taxpayers.

Doug Pine, the technology coordinator at Gowanda, stated that parts of the technology section for the capital project are not needed. The project began in 2014, thus minute, immediate needs were already addressed.“Many of the items that were in the original project from the start three years ago were completed already,” Pine said. “Some of those things were the new phone system and a new wireless system.”

The architects stated that they will have updated numbers soon. The board will meet with the architects again today at the middle school cafeteria at 6 p.m. Wright stated that they could have updated numbers, but that isn’t a certainty.

A bump in the road was met during the explanation of the HVAC climate control system. However, the board recently discovered the project will not include all rooms of the high school, middle school building.

“Initially, the budget and scope of the project was for climate control in the entire building,” Wright said. “We brought in some engineers … to find out how well the rooms are being heated, cooled or ventilated. And in addition to that, they outlined the age of the systems that are in place. What we were able to do was a combination of modifying the existing systems because many existing systems still have a fairly good life ahead of them.”

Some rooms like the boiler rooms, the gyms and the pool will not be heated/cooled due to the actions taking place in the room. And, Wright added, that those rooms will “benefit from climate control throughout the building.”

Board member Mark Nephew showed disapproval because the uniform heating/cooling of the gym was one of the reasons for the HVAC’s inclusion. Nephew and the board heard complains about the gym, which hosts the Regents (or final exams), being too hot during the summer and cold in winter.

“Part of what we heard from the students is that the complaints are that regents occurs in June and that’s when we put all the kids together for the exams and that’s part of the reason, rationale for doing climate control,” Nephew said. “… Don’t use that as an argument to put the HVAC in because we need cooler gyms for the regents exams if it’s not going to be in the project.”

Board president Cynthia Sutherland asked for future utility costs associated with the new HVAC system as well.

“We talked about that with our engineer with our initial budget,” Wright answered. “We haven’t taken that any further. It’s bit of a lengthy service and we will look into that if it’s possible.”

Gowanda High School Principal Dr. Robert Anderson added that the second floor was measured “upwards of 95 degrees,” showing the severity of the atmosphere that students face while trying to perform.

Lastly, the board looked into changing the library section of the capital project. Originally, the library was going to combine the high school’s and middle school’s library into one and create a library media center. The room would have separate sections for a modern library as well as areas for the community to utilize.

The board dabbled with the idea of possibly keeping two separate libraries and update them. The board wanted a study of utilization of the libraries before moving ahead. That could take up to eight weeks.

Another study the board asked for was the injury differences between grass and turf, as the school may have a turf softball and baseball field after the project.

Gowanda Superintendent James Klubek could not attend the meeting as he was absent due to possibly serious family business. Dr. Anderson filled the role for Klubek during his absents.

Twitter: @Kuczkowski95