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10/15/2009

By Kara Herlihy

The Harwood School Board will ask voters to approve a $1.1 million bond to complete repairs to the building, for paving and to build an additional athletic field on site.

School board members voted unanimously in favor of the bond at their October 7 meeting.

Harwood Principal Duane Pierson outlined the facility upgrade projects in order of priority. First on the list is the replacement of the water main, estimated to cost $50,000; the school's roof ranks second on the list, estimated to cost $126,000.

COMPLETE THE PROJECTS

The school's dishwasher needs replacement ($31,930), the air handler needs upgrade and repair ($67,235), and the range hood, currently broken, needs to be replaced ($20,000).

Board members also discussed the need for pavement patching, estimated at $75,000. School board member Mary Gow asked if $75,000 was adequate to complete the projects.

"Are we not putting a Band-Aid on it?" Gow said.

School board member Mike LaRock said it could easily cost $500,000 to rebuild the parking lot.

POTHOLES

Pierson expressed concerns over the parking lot potholes and reports of students and parents falling in the parking lot and faculty members' tires blowing out in the front loop.

School board member Freddie Graves said, "It's putting a Band-Aid on a bleeding wound." We've had conversations about bringing it up to voters in March."

Discussion then turned to adding another athletic field on the Delong property, previously purchased by the school with the intention of adding a field. Graves said it had been suggested that Harwood give money instead to Capital Soccer, who recently broke ground on a new field in Waterbury.

"Should we give money to that project instead and have our soccer fields located there? I was asked to bring that up tonight," Graves said.

ACADEMIC AND ATHLETIC

School board member Joanne Duhl said, "I don't think we should spend money on this. We bought the Delong property for a reason and invested in that plan. I think the money we've already put out for the Delong property should be put to good use and used for academic and athletic purposes."

Pierson agreed and said that they are "really trying to make Harwood a community; holding a sporting event on our site brings people here."

If Harwood students were to use the soccer fields in Waterbury, bussing expenses are expected and lacrosse would not be allowed; softball, however, would be able to be played at Harwood.

CENTRAL LOCATION

"We need more community activity here as a central location for the whole district; Harwood being the middle of something is a great thing. It cannot be overlooked in importance that we are in the middle of the district," Pierson continued.

School board member Chris Koliba said that holding two votes, one in November and one in March, would be less likely to succeed, especially the second article.

"I think if we're going to go for the full pavement we should do it all in one; if we hold two votes people will say no to the second," Koliba said.

WATER MAIN

School board member Ann Griffin said that the repair of the water main is imperative and needs to be done in November: "I think these needs are critical and I can't believe anyone would vote against repairing the roof or fixing the water main."

LaRock said he and the facilities committee "don't have a hard number for the whole parking lot, so I just want to be upfront."

Board members estimated $500,000 for the complete repaving and rebuilding of the parking lot and decided to include the additional repairs, including the athletic field, in a single bond vote, totally $1.1 million.

DETERIORATED OVER TIME

Gow called attention to the significant energy savings that would likely be achieved by the list of repairs and replacements. She also expressed concern over the stormwater runoff in the parking lot since the original curbing has deteriorated over time.

School board member Bob Holden agreed with moving forward with one vote.

"I agree with the fact that if we do a bond in the fall you're going to have a hard time convincing people to do a bond in March. We should be looking at a million dollar bond and adding another $425,000 to do the parking lot and get it done right. The last time we went for a bond we didn't do a great job; now we're looking at basic necessities of the school and these are original items built 50 years ago," Holden said.

FORMAL WARNING

"We can have all the programs in the world, but if we don't have a good facility it is not going to work. We need a million dollars worth of effort to get people to understand why we need it," he continued.

Gow then made a motion to warn a vote for the $1.1 million bond scheduled for Tuesday, November 10. In addition to a formal warning, the bond will also need a resolution of necessity and public good document, to be signed by board members.

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