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F-M BOE approves facilities project

Fayetteville-Manlius residents will have a chance to vote on a $10.5 million referendum March 1.

The F-M Board of Education unanimously approved its facilities project at the Jan. 10 meeting, which includes building a new $3 million bus garage/transportation office at its current site near Wellwood Middle School.

More than 50 residents attended the meeting, down about 100 from the BOE's special Jan. 2 meeting, when it first learned the results of a traffic study on Broadfield Road - one of the sites the board considered to build a new garage.

The study, conducted by Clough Harbour, ruled the location unsuitable for a transportation center due to traffic, inadequate site distances and narrow roads. The facilities committee consequently met again last week to further discuss its options; the study results convinced members that the cons to build on Broadfield outweighed the pros. The committee's recommendation ultimately coincided with the district administration's to rebuild on Franklin Street in the village of Fayetteville. The existing center, built in 1951, has numerous structural deficiencies, thus providing unsafe work conditions for employees. Storage space is also a concern. Demolition and reconstruction is the best option, officials said.

During Monday night's public comment period, most residents' questions continued to focus on the site that board members told them was off the table. Their most pressing question: Would Broadfield Road become an option again if residents vote down the referendum?

Board President John Cucinotta responded: "If the voters say no, that means the referendum fails and we are back at square zero. We can put up the same referendum again or put up a different referendum or different site."

Cucinotta noted there weren't many other sites to consider; the board researched 12 locations.

If voters approve the referendum, construction of a new transportation center would begin next year and last about four months. The bus garage is one of several items included in the facilities project and costs less than one-third of the total project. Other capital improvements include locker and elevator replacement at Eagle Hill Middle School; a full fire alarm system replacement at Wellwood Middle School; an HVAC replacement, casework and flooring replacement at Fayetteville Elementary School; and interior door and frame replacements at the high school. High school funds would also go to field drainage, irrigation and sod replacement, but if the turf field project goes through, that money would be allocated to additional infrastructure needs, officials said.

Because voters approved a capital reserve fund last May, officials said there is already money set aside, and there would be no tax impact on residents.

The referendum is scheduled to take place on Tuesday March 1 at Fayetteville Elementary School. Polls will be open from 7 am. to 9 p.m.

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