Details emerge on Dunkirk High School renovations


OBSERVER Staff Writer

With Phase III of the Dunkirk City School District’s EXCEL Aid Project coming to a close, details are beginning to emerge regarding a new wave of updates, this time to the high school.

Ronald Kessler of Sandberg Kessler Architec-ture & Engineering was on hand at a recent Dunkirk Board of Education meeting to discuss details for Phase IV of the project.

According to Kessler, Phase IV is a continuing phase intended to finish up exterior site work at the high school, as well as some interior renovations inside the main building.

Exterior work will cost roughly $2 million while interior work will be about $684,000. Design and construction contingencies will bring the total cost to $3.8 million.

“It all starts with adding an access road, which will connect Van Miller Way and Marauder Drive,” Kessler said. “This will relieve, of course, through traffic down Van Miller Way … and we will be able to regulate traffic once this road is constructed. (Van Miller Way) will also be re-constructed all the way to Sixth Street because it’s still needed for trailered deliveries, as there is a turn on it that cannot be navigated.”

In addition to the access road, which will be lit up at night, one of the major projects of Phase IV includes renovations to the athletic fields, including updated soccer and softball fields in Veterans Field, just south of the high school.

“Renovations will take place on a property that is leased from the city,” Kessler said. “It’s going to be a 15-year plus-or-minus lease. (To the north of the city’s Babe Ruth Field), we will have a soccer field … similar in size to the one that is within the track. The girls’ softball field will be completely updated and rebuilt with drainage, sodded fields, new dugouts, bleachers and a sidewalk (on the leased property).”

A future concession stand will also be in the works as crews will work on sanitary, electrical and water utilities to the corner of Van Miller Way and the south parking lot.

Along with the new fields, the varsity baseball field’s outfield will be leveled off so there isn’t so much of an elevation change from one side to the other. New scoreboards at both the softball and baseball fields will be installed. No work is being planned for the tennis courts.

Kessler said Phase IV will also consist of creating a series of half-circular steps that will lead up to the victory bell at Karl Hoeppner Field.

“Hopefully, you’ll be able to go up there at some point and ring that bell after a football game,” he said.

Inside the high school, crews will give moderate face lifts to some of the rooms, including the boys’ and girls’ team shower rooms in the basement, which will include private changing rooms. Also, guidance offices will be moved adjacent to the high school office, making it more accessible to the main entrance. A 23-station computer lab and a conference room will be put where the guidance office currently is located. The school’s original sewage pump will also be replaced.

“On the high school main floor, we’re going to re-work the instrumental music storage room and create some additional storage in there,” Kessler said. “We will also replace the floor in the choral music room.”

Dunkirk School Superin-tendent Gary Cerne said the next step for Phase IV will be to set a referendum vote for the taxpayers.

“The referendum will be in December. If it is a positive vote from the taxpayers, we’ll go full-speed ahead with what we call the final design and that’s putting together all the blueprints and schematics, everything that has to go to the State Education Department for approval. Then, we have to wait for them,” Cerne said. “That can take up to 22 weeks of waiting, which is crazy, because they’re short-handed up there. So, we’re going to miss out on construction next summer because of timing.”

Cerne said next summer, Phase III will be completely finished. Window work at the middle school is planned for then, as well as interior corridor work at School Seven and an overhaul of the library media center there. Cerne also said Phase IV will potentially be the final part of the entire EXCEL Aid Project.

During the presentation, Kessler said he expects all projects in Phase IV to be completed over one construction season. This means Phase IV should be expected to be done around mid to late 2015.

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