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Freeport Area approves middle school contracts after OK from Buffalo Township

| Thursday, May 29, 2014, 12:46 a.m.

As expected, the Buffalo Township Planning Commission and its supervisors on Wednesday gave Freeport Area School District's $33.1 million middle school building project the green light.

Anticipating the township's approval, the Freeport Area School Board awarded $27.6 million in contracts for the project Wednesday.

Massaro Construction was given the general construction contract.

The school is being built behind the Freeport Area High School off South Pike Road (Route 356) in Buffalo Township. It will house about 500 students in grades 6 to 8.

Groundbreaking is expected in mid-June, and the district hopes to open the school in fall 2015.

Project architect HHSDR Architects Engineers and its contractors have been working with Buffalo Township's planning commission and engineer since December in an effort to resolve stormwater plan deficiencies and correct numerous items that did not meet township ordinances.

“They met our ordinances; that's all we wanted them to do from the beginning,” said planning commission chairwoman Regan Cordier.

Issues that had been sticking points for months were resolved in a few weeks after the planning commission on May 7 delayed forwarding a decision onto supervisors — mainly due to problems with the site's stormwater management plan.

“Someone must have had an epiphany to get everything done,” said Supervisor John Haven.

The district's revised plans show larger stormwater detention ponds that, according to their calculations, will adequately control water runoff onto Monroe Road.

“We're satisfied that what they provided is adequate,” said township engineer Ken Howard of Bankson Engineers, who worked extensively with project designers.

The supervisors granted the district's request to build the gym and auditorium roofs 33.8 feet high, which is above the township's limit of 28 feet in a residential area.

The district said the additional height is required for competitive sports and to accommodate stage rigging and produce appropriate acoustics.

School board president Dan Lucovich said the district is pleased that it can move forward with the project.

“We can't wait to put that first shovel in the dirt and get things rolling,” he said.

Massaro Construction of O'Hara was awarded the general construction contract for the school at $18.7 million — just $3,000 less than a bid from Mike Coates Construction of Niles, Ohio.

Contractor: Work to start soon

Massaro officials said their crew is putting the finishing touches on the new Penn Hills Elementary School and should be able to move its crew to Freeport's site “within a couple of weeks.”

Other costs associated with the project are $1.7 million for design and engineering and $558,000 to install a left-turn lane from Route 356 to Silverview Drive and a right turn lane from Route 356 onto Cole Road.

Superintendent Christopher DeVivo said all activities scheduled for this summer at the high school campus will go on as scheduled.

Architects said parking lot curbing and paving won't be taking place until the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Once construction is completed, the current junior high school and the kindergarten center, both in Freeport, will be closed.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com. George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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