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Plum School Board contemplates building new bus garage

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The Plum School District bus garage is in poor condition, with cracks in the building, and needs repaired or replaced. One suggestion is to explore building on the Renton site, where Plum Borough's public works building recently was completed.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The foundation on all sides of the Plum School District's bus garage is crumbling.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The parts storage area in the school district's bus garage is crowded into a small, closet-like space.

Nearly $400,000 is earmarked in the 2014-15 school year for equipment upgrades and improvements at the Plum School District bus garage.

Plum School Board member Sal Colella is proposing taking a second look at spending money at the garage on Leechburg Road.

Colella wants to explore the possibility of building a new garage at the site of the borough property on Renton Road that is home to the borough's new public works operation. The borough owns about 110 acres at the site.

“We have to make a decision to invest there or look for another facility,” Colella said during last week's transportation committee meeting.

The initial discussion during the committee meeting concerned purchasing transportation routing software and two-way radios and repeaters for the department.

“We would be putting technology into a garage that is falling down,” Colella said.

The district's tentative capital improvement plan calls for a variety of repairs to the aging building over several years including paving the driveways and parking lots, installing new lighting and cameras, painting, roof restoration and upgrading the restrooms, doors and vestibule.

The site has about two acres. Also, board member Tom McGough said the area is cramped, with little space.

“The whole facility is falling apart,” Superintendent Timothy Glasspool said.

After soliciting proposals from private bus companies, board members and the district's bus drivers, mechanics and aides reached agreement on a contract that extends through July 31, 2015.

Colella said he believes community members want an in-house transportation department.

“This community wants the bus drivers,” Colella said.

“We have to decide whether to put money into it (the garage) or build another building.”

Colella said he envisions a 65,000-square-foot building to house the district's bus fleet that has 59 vehicles, according to the district website. Colella estimates the building would cost about $1 million.

He also would like to see offices, a heated station for bus washing and lifts for mechanics.

Glasspool said the first step in the process is to speak with borough officials about the potential feasibility of building a new garage at the site.

The borough is moving forward with a new building at the site that is to house a new station for the Renton Volunteer Fire Department and a new ambulance base for Plum Emergency Medical Services.

Plum Council Vice President Keith Nowalk wants to explore the concept.

“I think it is a great idea,” Nowalk said. “I would love to have them (the school district bus garage) there. It would be a perfect fit. It would be a benefit for the school district and the borough. I would like to see it happen.”

Borough Engineer Robert Mitall said the proposal would have to be studied to determine how much land would be available.

Borough council and school board members are expected to discuss the proposal during an intergovernmental meeting at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11 in the cafeteria at Plum High School, 900 Elicker Road.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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