In addition to voting on the $113 million dollar spending plan, South Colonie residents will also be asked to vote on May 17 on a $1,900,000 real property proposition. This proposition is to purchase an alternative property to the $2,050,000 land approved for purchase by district residents in May 2021.
Assessing the needs for future generations
New York school districts are required to conduct regular building condition surveys and to develop multi-year facilities plans, which can help identify aging, outdated or energy inefficient school infrastructure and facility issues related to health and wellness. According to South Colonie’s five-year Building Condition Survey completed in 2020 by CSArch Architects, significant repairs were needed to both the transportation facility and district office, requiring the district to ask residents to consider purchasing property for a future capital project.
Prior to the budget vote in May 2021, the district identified the best available land for purchase at the time in order to meet the future potential infrastructure needs.
“The 57-acre property located off of Broderick Street was identified as the best option for taxpayers at the time,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Perry. “As such we brought the land proposition forth during the budget vote in May 2021 and it was approved by voters.”
Planning for sustainable development
To date, the district has not purchased the Broderick Street property. As part of an on-going due diligence period prior to completing the purchase, the district underwent an extensive site analysis, feasibility studies, and cost analysis in the current market.
“We wanted to be sure that we were being fiscally and socially responsible before moving forward with the completion of the purchase,” said Perry. “We worked with our architects and construction team to do a complete analysis so we could better understand what we might be working with if and when we brought a future capital project referendum to voters.”
The following findings were revealed in the review process:
- Based on environmental factors the land has a reduced area for constructing buildings than previously known (only 11-12 out of the total 57 acres can be used due to wetlands and conservation);
- In order for the property to be feasible costly roadways would need to be constructed within wetland and conservation areas to support healthy traffic patterns for area residents;
- If future construction occurred, buildings would need to be adjacent to the railroad potentially disrupting working conditions of staff and students; and
- Environmental impact would be greater on new construction versus an alternative property that could be reconstructed or renovated.
Considering the 1015 Watervliet Shaker Road Property
At the time the findings became known to the district, the district simultaneously started exploring properties that were not available at the time the Broderick Street property was identified.
“The 1015 Watervliet Shaker Road had recently become available to the market as an already developed 13.16 acre property containing existing buildings that could potentially be renovated,” Perry said. “We had already been working with our architects and construction team so we were able to pull them in to evaluate construction costs associated with a new build versus a potential renovation at the Watervliet Shaker Road property.”
If approved by voters, the property would be used to construct/renovate a new bus garage and maintenance facility at a future date. While the construction plans would be part of the Next Generation Colonie capital project referendum vote in fall of 2022, based on estimates provided by the SEI Design Group and Schoolhouse Construction Services, LLC, the district estimates a savings of $1.5 million in construction costs.
Other advantages to the proposed land include a final price of $150,000 less than the Broderick Street property and that it is a similar use facility (educational) with interchangeable traffic patterns so additional roadways would not need to be constructed.
“We have spent a lot of time evaluating the future infrastructure needs of the district,” said board of education president Rose Gigliello. “We know that regardless of the location our aging transportation facility will need a new home soon.”
Should the property proposition not pass, the district could move forward with purchasing the 57-acre property approved by voters in May 2021 and would work with the architects to find the most cost- effective solution while meeting the current and future needs of the district.
May 17 Budget Vote & Board Election
In addition to the land proposition, district residents will vote on a $113 million dollar spending plan, a bus proposition and elect two individuals to the South Colonie Board of Education.
More information about the budget vote including a full budget Q&A can be found here.