Still no progress on Gowanda pool project
GOWANDA — After five months of waiting for approval from the New York State Education Department, the Gowanda Central School District is still left without an answer on the project to update the district’s pool.
“I don’t know where it is, so that’s your update,” Gowanda Superintendent Dr. Robert Anderson told the Gowanda Board of Education at a recent meeting. “I don’t really know what else to do except continue with more patience.”
On Sept. 1, state Education Department began its review of projects that were pushed back in line in order to prioritize projects related to the safe opening of schools. In the five months since, the only movement Gowanda has seen on its pool project is it has been put in a state queue and assigned a number.
“It’s an important part of our curriculum at times of the year to teach kids how to swim, and we have external groups come use it. It’s a good facility, and I understand people’s eagerness to hop back in the water. We just can’t promise when that’s going to be,” said Anderson.
The district’s architects, Young and Wright Architectural, have also reached out to the state on their behalf on multiple occasions. On multiple occasions, the state did not offer a response.
And now, it’s not just the pool that is stuck in limbo.
In December, the district offered an update on the upcoming new playground equipment for the pre-kindergarten and elementary students. Padding around the playground, along with several new play structures and a swing set, is set to be covered by state grant funding. However, the project has yet to be approved for construction, leaving the target date for completion in the fall of next school year in question.
The district also planned to use funding set to expire June 30 to address the playground, which is in question if the project keeps being pushed back.
“They know the issue, but there is only so much we can do on our end,” said School Business Administrator Barbara Smith.
Anderson explained state Education Department needs to evaluate how much assistance they want to provide the district for the projects. He also stated that the department is severely understaffed, which has left many schools across the state in the same boat as Gowanda. Project review timelines have gone from an average of 6-8 weeks up to now 12 weeks, according to Anderson.
“We’re trying. They know the issues. We can just keep hoping that something happens in Albany to our benefit,” Smith said.