Marcellus bus garage spawns major project

Field finished; garage and DMS addition ongoing

It all started with a garage.

Six years ago, a couple of Marcellus school board members simply wanted a new bus garage. Now, the district is in the midst of a $23-million capital facilities project to replace that garage and improve several other aspects of its three schools.

Jeff Crysler initiated the movement to replace the garage, which he described as "pretty dysfunctional." He and fellow board member Brian McNaney created a committee to address the problem. The project was to cost $3 million.

But then they brought the idea to the attention of the school board. The board had suggestions for further improvements. As did the faculty. As did the administration. As did the public.

"As it moved on, it became a huge wish list," Crysler said.

Wish list

After several more meetings, and taking into account everyone's recommendations, the committee drew up a proposal to present for approval. The project's biggest challenge, Crysler said, was building trust with the community by showing the public how the project would benefit their children.

So the committee neatly bundled a summary of their proposal in an information packet, which was distributed at a public "project information night." The district offered tours of the schools so those interested could see first-hand what improvements would be made. School officials and board members made themselves available to provide project update presentations to community groups and organizations.

The public approved the proposal, which included new soccer fields at K.C. Hefferman Elementary School, new new classrooms and a new gymnasium for Driver Middle School, and a new athletics field and expanded library media center for the high school, on Jan. 27, 2004.

The proposal estimated that the state aid would provide $18 million for the project, leaving Marcellus taxpayers to pay $5 million. This money would come in the form of increased taxes, and would cost residents between $26 and $65 a year, depending on the value of their homes. But these figures are not set in stone, said Tony Carnevale, assistant superintendent for business. Since the state has provided only an estimate at that point, the district is not certain how much of the financial burden will fall on the community.

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