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Penn-Trafford board whittles wish list

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The wish list is a little shorter.

Penn-Trafford officials no longer are considering a new heater for the high school pool or a pricier roof upgrade for the district's biggest building if there is wiggle room in the construction budget.

But a $3.5-million annex housing an auxiliary gym, fitness center and maintenance facility remains a highly desired add-on to the upcoming high school project if the district can afford it.

School board members will spend the next several weeks deciding which alternate projects to include when they seek bids for the remodeling. Though the project is estimated to cost about $32 million, they hope some savings in the base bids can be shifted to other work they contend is necessary.

Administrators want board members to rank their priorities next month so they are ready to solicit bids in April, interim Superintendent Matt Harris said. The construction manager plans for the board to approve contracts for general construction, plumbing, electrical and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning — and any alternates — in May.

“We want to make a good decision so we have it ahead of time,” he said.

The annex is the most-expensive potential alternate, but it's a feature that many officials say would provide much-needed space.

An auxiliary gym would cut down on the scheduling hassles and transportation woes, Athletic Director Kerry Hetrick said.

On most days, teams practice or play at the high school in shifts from 3 to 9 p.m., he said. Some other schools can schedule boys and girls basketball games at the same time because they have multiple courts.

At Penn-Trafford, the lack of an auxiliary gym means some athletes have to take a bus to practice or play at another district building or go home for a few hours until the high school is available for their team, Hetrick said.

“It makes for a very tight schedule, and it makes for a pecking order with varsity at the top,” he said.

Other options include new Warrior Stadium restrooms that would be compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, new boilers to replace equipment from the 1990s, the addition of two tennis courts and 24 parking spaces, restoring the library skylight and new lighting and parking near the baseball field.

Officials have decided to add to the base bid an estimated $47,000 to create a gated, gravel access road to Warrior Court for emergency and maintenance workers to use. They also are planning to include the widening of the bus loop by 6 feet to create 35 to 40 more parking spaces at a cost of about $20,000.

The idea to replace the pool heater has sunk, though. District consultants say the heater still has a 10-year lifespan, while a new one would cost $58,350.

Last month, swimming coach Dave Babik told the school board that opposing swimmers and their families openly criticize the quality of Penn-Trafford's pool.

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