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Mount Sinai’s administration and board — including Superintendent Gordon Brosdal and BOE President Robert Sweeney — will ask taxpayers to weigh in on a capital bond proposal Dec. 11. File photo by Erika Karp

The Mount Sinai School District board of education has announced a $25 million price tag for its upcoming capital bond proposal, which would make major repairs to school roofs as well as add new teaching spaces.

At its Oct. 11 meeting Mount Sinai’s board voted to move ahead with the $25,331,498 bond proposal and set a date for a community vote on Dec. 11.

The board showcased the final bond proposal at its Oct. 17 meeting for the community, which proposes an average $240 tax increase on a home assessed at $3,700, or $370 on a home with an assessed value of $5,700.

The bond has changed somewhat since its initial presentation Sept. 26. The sticker price has gone from $24.6 million to $25.3 million and new projects have been added, including upgrades to the boys and girls bathrooms in both the middle and high school. Other additions included creating a girls varsity softball synthetic turf field for $327,750 and a boys varsity baseball synthetic turf infield for $393,300.

The original bond proposal included new additions to the high school orchestra room and a 12,000 square foot fitness center, but those were not included in the final proposal. The September proposal also included a new music lab, but board President Robert Sweeney said the school did not have the space for it, and that additions to the bond were made based on student enrollment, which is expected to decrease in the next several years.

“In four years, there will be 200 less kids in the high school than we’ve ever had,” Sweeney said. “This [bond] is driven by student need and it’s student centered.”

The bond would also fund additional security improvements, including adding security cameras to all school buildings as well as replacing exterior doors and adding non-ballistic security film to windows.

In terms of repairs, the bond would use $2.1 million to complete 54,000 square feet of roofing replacement for the high school, and would also fund projects to repave the high school’s main parking lot, replace flooring in the middle school and replace the public address and master time clock system in all school buildings.

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said the most important inclusions were those that repaired some of the campus’ aging buildings.

“I think the board did a great job to weigh everything out and keep the community in mind, especially repairing our 40-year-old, 50-year-old, 60-year-old buildings,” Brosdal said.

The bond also includes funds for one synthetic turf multi-purpose field and 1,400 square foot locker room renovations and expansions at the high school.

Sweeney said the board took out multiple items from the original proposal, including repairs to masonry, painting lintels and for the inclusion of natural gas emergency generators for the elementary and middle school because several of those projects can be included in either future capital projects using the district’s unassigned fund balance or with normal district budgets.

“Those items were perfectly fine, but we have money in the budget to do it,” Sweeney said.

Some community members, like Mount Sinai resident Michael McGuire, have questioned the need for a bond if it also leads to tax increases.

“The kids we are investing in cannot afford to live here,” McGuire said.

Voters can weigh in on the referendum Dec. 11. Residents in the school district must be registered in order to vote. Residents can register at the District Office during school hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Dec. 5.

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Kevin Redding

The Mount Sinai School District is asking the community to pay higher taxes in exchange for upgrades to its buildings.

The district unveiled a capital projects proposal that will require passage of a bond by the community at a board meeting Sept. 26. The list of projects contains a number of renovations and upgrades officials hope will keep MS schools in line with other local districts and prepare its facilities for future generations.

“We’re not looking to do this all for tomorrow – we’re looking for providing for our kids 10 to 15 years from now,” board of education President Robert Sweeney said.

The planned total for the bond currently sits at $24,695,663, which would raise taxes by $235 for a household in the Mount Sinai community with an assessed value of $3,700, or $362 for an assessed value of $5,700, for example. This tax increase will be in addition to whatever tax value will be released for the 2019-20 budget.

Items to be included in the more than $24 million in projects are a large swathe of renovations and repair work to all three of the school buildings on campus, as well as the athletic fields and grounds. The bond proposal seeks to replace the public address and master time clock system across all three buildings. In addition, it asks for money to replace several exterior doors, windows and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems across all school buildings on the campus.

In line with the district’s push for stronger building security, the bond details a number of security upgrades, including new surveillance cameras and intercom systems, exterior door automatic locking systems and film-lined glass windows to make it more difficult to see in.

The high school is receiving a substantial share of attention, with funds in the bond to finish replacement of the roof, which has long suffered from leaks. It also calls for the construction of new music practice rooms along with renovations to the art room, ceramics room, fashion/tech room, locker rooms and science labs.

In terms of outdoor facilities, the bond proposes two new field surfaces, one a multipurpose turf field at the high school and another a natural surface girls softball field.

The board will hold a special meeting Oct. 10 to discuss the merits of certain projects on the list. Sweeney said he wanted to be careful to only go out to bond for projects the district wouldn’t normally be able to complete with excess fund balance.

“If I can pay for it, why should I put it on credit?” he said.

The board also detailed a number of potential projects not included on the main list to be discussed prior to approving a final menu, like replacing stage lighting at Mount Sinai Elementary School and reconfiguring the library in the middle school. The high school could see the auditorium seating replaced along with additions to the orchestra room and the main office. The biggest extra projects included the construction of a new 6,500-square-foot maintenance storage garage and the creation of two new synthetic turf fields, one for softball and another for baseball.

The total for the additional projects is about $26 million. If the district were to include everything from additional projects and the bond as currently proposed, the total would equal $50,483,500, which would add $480 or $740 per year in additional taxes for homes assessed at $3,700 or $5,700, respectively.

Board Vice President Lynn Jordan said that several months ago the original list of projects provided to the board equaled close to $68 million, and she thought the 20 Mount Sinai residents and school employees on a bond committee formed during the summer did a good job in focusing down on what was most critical.

“They put their hearts and souls into this, and I’m very impressed with how they all handled deliberations,” Jordan said.

Mount Sinai resident Brad Arrington said he hoped the school would be conscientious not to make extensive changes just to keep up with other local school districts.

“It can be easy to feel envious of what other districts have, but we need to focus on what we can afford,” Arrington said. “We need to take a balanced approach, with some of our focus dedicated to sports, some to the arts.”

In May district residents approved a $5 million capital project referendum. The funds have already gone toward finishing refurbishing the school’s football field, and replacing perimeter fencing and fixing a portion of the high school roof is also underway.

Residents are encouraged to attend or send in comments to the board before the Oct. 10 meeting.

Once the board votes to approve the bond, there will be a mandated 45-day period before the bond can be brought to a community vote. The board will determine when a vote will be held after its Oct. 27 board meeting.

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Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Most school district administrators and staff, like students and teachers, are able to take the summer to recharge and unwind. In Port Jefferson School District, Fred Koelbel, director of facilities and transportation, gets no such respite.

The overseer of all things buildings and grounds in the district was at the Sept. 17 board of education meeting to fill the board and the public in on the work done during the summer months and beyond. Some projects were completed using capital reserves while others were handled “in-house” by district employees, though virtually all were completed prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We had the opportunity to see a lot of these improvements firsthand, and I certainly would commend the staff that worked on them, it was impressive,” board President Kathleen Brennan said.

Koelbel spoke about some of the bigger projects accomplished by his team of workers.

“The biggest project we undertook, and it actually started before the summer, was the complete renovation of the electrical distribution system in the high school,” Koelbel said.

Beginning during spring break, Hauppauge-based All Service Electric Inc. re-fed power lines through underground trenches. Previously, power lines from outdoor polls into the school were fed along overhead lines, susceptible to the elements and to trees. The job was completed during the summer.

“This did two things for us — now if our power goes out, part of the grid went out and we’re much higher priority to get restored,” Koelbel said. “Before when it was, a tree knocked down a line on our property, it was just our property was out, and the neighborhood might still be on and we might not be as high of a priority. But now we also have more reliable service because it’s underground, so it’s not affected by the trees.”

He said the task wasn’t easy for the vendor and commended the job.

“It snowed on them, it rained, the trenches filled up with water, their boots were getting stuck in the mud and the clay, but they persevered and got lines in,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the work they did.”

The new underground feeds will soon also house the school’s cable and phone lines, eliminating the need for any cables fed to the school overhead.

Many of the projects were simpler to complete, though not necessarily less time consuming. The high school track was torn up and resurfaced. The second phase of a multiyear roof replacement project continued. Sidewalks in front of the high school were replaced, as were crumbling bricks in the façade of the exterior of the building. The section of the high school driveway nearest to the main entrance on Barnum Avenue was repaved.

One of the more visually noticeable upgrades took place in the high school gymnasium. Koelbel said a new sound system and video board were installed, and the walls were repainted purple and white.

“It really has a flavor of ‘welcome to our house,’” he said of the refurbished gym.

In the elementary school, the floors of two classrooms were removed and replaced, as were the carpeted floors in a couple of hallways.

“It’s like a huge Petri dish, it’s not a good choice,” he said of carpeting in elementary school hallways, which was replaced with tile flooring.

Several doors to classrooms in the elementary school were replaced as part of another multiyear implementation, as many were beginning to show their age, according to Koelbel. Door locks in both school buildings were upgraded as well.

Blinds on the windows of classrooms in both buildings were replaced with rolling shades. Additional security cameras were added across district buildings, as were fire extinguishers for every classroom, and several fire alarms were also upgraded at the high school.

District Superintendent Paul Casciano and Assistant Superintendent Sean Leister each commended Koelbel and the district’s staff for completing the projects in time for the start of school.

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Significant upgrades are underway for Mount Sinai’s football field, bleachers, track, press box and surrounding areas. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Mount Sinai Mustangs football team will soon be cantering down a new turf field as part of the school district’s ongoing capital bond projects.

By the end of the school year, the district hopes to have completed an upgrade to its turf field, track, concrete plazas, fencing, press box and bleachers for the varsity field. Plans are also in place to repair the high school roof as part of the district’s $5 million capital project that was approved in May by residents with a 787 to 176 vote. The district hired Melville-based architectural and engineering firm H2M to help design the new sports amenities and fencing, and Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said right now all projects are on or ahead of schedule.

“You have to take care of your houses — all your stuff,“ Brosdal said. “If you don’t maintain them it becomes a big expense.”

The district has ripped up its old turf surface, fearing that its age could result in it being condemned, and replaced it with a new one that prominently shows the school logo and mascot name. Amityville-based The Landtek Group Inc. is currently building the new track and new concrete plaza that will border the football field, both of which will be finished by mid-November.

The new upgraded bleachers and press box should arrive in mid-November as well, according to district officials. The total amount for the athletics upgrades, including the new field and amenities, cost about $2.3 million.

Brosdal said the field would be finished by Sept. 21 when the Mustangs will be hosting its first home game against Port Jefferson.

“We tried to schedule the start of our season to be away games, but we should definitely be ready by that date,” Brosdal said.

About $1.4 million went to fixing a patch of the high school roof that has caused problems for the building during rainstorms. Construction will take place after school hours and is expected to be completed from late October to mid-November.

The district is also planning to invest in new perimeter fencing. Some parts will be amending torn down chain link fencing, some of which borders residential properties. For fencing that borders the road, the plan is to build “ornamental” black iron fence to match the rustic character of the surrounding area. This includes a new gate stretched across the school’s front entrance off Route 25A with stone supports that will match the electronic signs stationed at both entrances.

The fences, along with other security measures, cost the district $800,000. The plan is to start construction in late September and is expected to be completed by mid-November.

Several new security updates have finally come at the start of the new school year as well, though not part of the capital project. All faculty must wear security badges that are color coded to their school building. Athletics personnel have a purple badge while substitute teachers are yellow. High school students must also now wear badges, colored differently depending on their class year.

The badges and guard booth were not part of the capital project and were instead included in the district’s security funding in the general fund budget. Mount Sinai’s 2018-19 budget included $400,000 in security funding, which was $305,000 more than the 2017-18 school year.

Students and staff are now required to scan their badge into an electronic system upon entry. To go along with this change, a new front gate guard booth was installed in May that is wired with a phone, computer and cameras. Persons approaching the front gate need to either show a driver’s license or school badge to gain access to the campus.

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Rocky Point High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

The Rocky Point school district is battening down the hatches and shoring up its defenses with money from its ongoing capital bond project.

The newly renovated music room in the high school. Photo from Rocky Point

The district has finished phase 2 of its list of projects set after passing a 2016 bond proposal. Much of the work has already been completed, including replacing the aging ceiling and lighting in much of the district’s four school buildings.

“What we did weren’t things that are exciting like adding on a new wing, new classrooms or a new gymnasium, they were basic things to keep serving the students,” Superintendent Michael Ring said.

In 2016 Rocky Point residents voted to let the district borrow $16 million for upgrades and repairs. The first half of the project, amounting to roughly $7 million, was completed in summer 2017. Parts of the second half of the plan, costing approximately $9 million, were completed before the start of the school year Sept. 4, according to the district.

In 2017, residents also approved with a 600 to 312 vote to release $3.4 million in capital reserve funds to work in tandem with the bond projects. That money was used to renovate the district’s music classrooms as well as finishing resealing of the middle school’s exterior brickwork to prevent water penetration. There are also plans for a future reconfiguration of the roadways on middle and high school property. Work is ongoing to refurbish the turf on the high school’s lower field, but Ring said weather has delayed the project. He said it should be completed within the next few weeks.

Renovated locker rooms at Rocky Point High School. Photo from Rocky Point

Last year’s bond work included new boilers and renovated bathrooms at the Joseph A. Edgar Elementary School, as well as adding air conditioning to the high school auditorium. Summer 2018 construction, overseen by Huntington Station-based Park East Construction Corp., provided renovations to the high school’s boys and girls locker rooms and bathrooms. An Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant lift for the high school gym stage was also installed. Along with the work at the high school, the Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School cafeteria had new air conditioning installed.

Ring said the most substantial improvement to district buildings during the past summer was the installation of new LED lighting fixtures throughout the high school and JAE elementary. The new lighting should be more energy efficient, he said, while giving the school the opportunity to replace aging ceiling tiles in places that had not been addressed for close to 50 years, since the high school was constructed.

Work to renovate the middle school’s lighting system will take place during the year after school hours. FJC elementary has had its lighting replaced in the building’s corridors, and the rest of the building’s lighting will be updated in summer 2019.

These lighting fixtures include new “daylight harvesting technology” that will dim the lights depending upon the amount of natural light that enters the room, which Ring said should save on electrical costs. The new lights also have occupancy sensors that will shut off all lights if there is nobody in the room.

“That’s so you don’t see that effect you see when you’re driving down the road and the whole building is lit up, even if it’s 8 o’clock at night,” Ring said.

Newly installed LED hallway lighting at Frank J. Carasiti Elementary School. Photo from Rocky Point

As part of the bond project, the district is also looking to beef up security at its buildings. The district added unarmed security guards to school buildings for the start of the new school year. Rocky Point is also looking to implement a new door access system to reject unwanted intruders as well as “door-ajar systems” that will notify the school if a door is being propped open from the inside.

The district also wants to improve its security camera capabilities by adding more camera coverage as well as installing new facial recognition and license plate reading technology. Ring said those projects are currently on hold awaiting New York State approval. If approved, the district will immediately put proposals out for bid so construction of those security additions can begin before the end of the 2018-19 school year, according to the superintendent.

Ring said he happy with the results of the bond work so far, even as it became stressful to finish ongoing projects before students returned for the start of classes.

“It’s always a relief when it’s done because it’s always a stressful time,” Ring said. “When you look at the end of June and things are getting pulled apart, then hoping and praying they get put back together for September. Hopefully next year’s project will come along, and the same thing will happen.”

A temporary heating and air conditioning unit installed at the homeless shelter of Northport VA medical center. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Standing in front of Northport Veterans Medical Center’s shuttered homeless shelter on Monday morning, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the center requires $15 million in emergency repairs to its heating and air-conditioning systems. Or, it faces the possibility of closing more buildings and its operating rooms again this summer.

“It’s hard to believe, but the dog days of summer are on our doorstep,” Schumer said. “The existing HVAC systems at this veterans center aren’t functioning. To shut down surgeries, to shut down treatment for our veterans is an absolute disgrace.”

Schumer called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately cut an emergency check for more than $15 million to the Northport medical center April 9. The funding would come from the roughly $4 billion set aside in a recently passed federal spending bill to repair and upgrade veterans medical centers across the nation. The senator said he pushed for that funding to be approved specifically with Northport VA in mind.

“We have an emergency here; it’s worse than most other places,” Schumer said. “My message to the VA as summer looms is simple: Don’t make our Long Island veterans sweat over their health care.”

To shut down surgeries, to shut down treatment for our veterans is an absolute disgrace.”

— Chuck Schumer

Standing with Northport VAMC Director D. Scott Guermonprez, Schumer noted the 42-bed homeless shelter was closed in January after its heating system failed during a cold snap. In February, the hospital had to close five of its operating rooms due to an air-conditioning system malfunction, which caused 18 surgeries to be postponed.

The 91-year-old facility provides medical care and services to approximately 130,000 veterans living on Long Island, according to Guermonprez. Its buildings were constructed between 1927 and 1931, a time during which windows were opened and large ceiling fans used to circulate cool outdoor air. While these structures were retrofitted with supplemental heating and cooling systems, Guermonprez said, it was never fully to modern standards.

“As we replace them, we’ll ensure that we have new systems going in place, we’re not fixing the ones that are here today,” he said.

My message to the VA as summer looms is simple: Don’t make our Long Island veterans sweat over their health care.”

— Chuck Schumer

According to Schumer’s estimates, the Northport VA’s hospital will require roughly half of the $15 million to fix long-standing heating ventilation and air-conditioning issues. In 2016, the hospital was forced to close its operating rooms for four months as the air-conditioning system wasn’t properly filtering, but rather spitting particles into the air. The same unit is still in use today, according to Schumer, and needs immediate replacement, as it is 12 years past its maximum advised life span, for $2.5 million. It’s estimated that $5 million would be needed to cover duct work and air volume control boxes to regulate air flow and room temperature in the hospital.

The Northport VA hospital also needs approximately $700,000 to replace the heating and air-conditioning systems in its isolation units for infectious disease patients. These four rooms, located on the second floor, currently cannot be used.

Other buildings that require repairs and upgrades include the hospital’s pharmacy storage, the post-traumatic stress disorder treatment center and the administrative building.

“We have a $4 billion pot of money, $15 million isn’t too much to ask,” Schumer said. “We need to get it now before summer.”

In addition to the repairs, the VA medical center director said he has hired a new chief engineer and is in the process of reorganizing its engineering department to have the skills necessary to maintain and upkeep new, high-tech heating and air-conditioning units once they are in place.

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat ferry company is temporarily operating with a significantly scaled down schedule. File photo

Ferry riders beware.

Frequent passengers of the Bridgeport-to-Port Jefferson ferry have fewer travel options for the time being.

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company currently has just one of its typical three-ship fleet available, according to Fred Hall, vice president and general manager of the ferry company located in Port Jefferson Village on the New York side of the Long Island Sound.

One of the ships, the PT Barnum, is out of service due to a bent propeller wheel, and The Park City is also unavailable because of needed repairs. Hall said the wheel of the PT Barnum was bent last week when the underside of the vessel hit an underwater piling. The Grand Republic is the only ship left standing.

Temporary ferry schedule April 9 through 12

Port Jeff departures:

6 a.m.

9 a.m.

12:15 p.m.

3:15 p.m.

7 p.m.

Bridgeport departures:

7:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m.

1:45 p.m.

5 p.m.

8:30 p.m.

“We wish we could offer a little more convenient schedule, but we only have one boat operating,” Hall said in a phone interview.

The company alerted riders of the pared down temporary schedule in a Facebook post April 7.

“The ferry company regrets that we must reduce our schedule for the foreseeable future and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience,” the post said.

Hall said the plan is to get the PT Barnum to a shipyard for repairs later this week — either April 12 or 13 he said — and that he expected the propeller replacement should not be more than a one-day job, and a two-boat schedule would be reinstated in short order. There is no current timetable for The Park City’s return.

Service was impacted last weekend, with only two trips departing from Port Jefferson April 7 — one at 5 p.m. and one at 8:15 p.m. Typically 11 ferries rides would leave from Port Jeff on a Saturday or Sunday. Five trips were made Sunday, April 8. Just prior to the start of the work week, the company announced again via its Facebook that fewer rides would be offered at least through April 12. Ships will be departing Port Jeff at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. through April 12, compared to a usual 10-ride weekday schedule. Only five return trips from Bridgeport, Connecticut are currently offered for the duration of the shortened service as well, with the earliest being 7:30 a.m. and the latest 8:30 p.m.

Several Facebook users commented on the two posts expressing frustration with the inconvenience.

“One boat = mismanagement, where does all the money go?” poster Kristine Sawdey said.

More than one commenter said they hoped the shortened service would be over soon.

The PT Barnum has been part of the company’s fleet since 1998. The 300-foot vessel has the capacity to hold up to 120 vehicles and 1,000 passengers, according to the ferry’s website.

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Repair work to strengthen bulkheads protecting the pier used by The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat ferry company is slated to be finished in June. Photo by Alex Petroski

It’s a common question lately for anyone within earshot of the Port Jefferson ferry: what’s that sound?

The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, which docks its vessels on the shores of Port Jefferson Village, is in the midst of a repair project that is addressing critical infrastructure, but it’s also causing residents to wonder aloud when they might have some peace and quiet.

Chesterfield Associates, a privately-owned contracting firm hired by the ferry company, is in the process of replacing sheet steel panels that make up the bulkhead, or retaining wall that protects the infrastructure below the pier, according to Jeff Grube, the general manager of the firm. Grube said the loud noise residents are periodically hearing is caused by a vibratory hammer, the machinery being used to drive the steel sheets into the underwater soil. If something obstructs the sheet from being driven into the soil — like in one case a submerged barge, according to Grube — that’s when the decibel level is loudest near the waterfront.

“Projects should include some type of shielding to prevent residences being rattled like this.”

— Facebook poster

“The old sheet piling was corroding to the point where they were starting to lose a lot of fill behind the bulkhead,” Grube said. He added that structural issues could arise if the repair work were not completed, causing a hazardous situation for anyone using the pier. Grube said Chesterfield Associates constructed the dock in the ‘80s, and thanks to regular upkeep by the ferry company, the bulkhead hasn’t needed to be addressed until now, but it was time for the repairs in order to strengthen its critical infrastructure. The general manager said the project is progressing as initially expected, and should be completed by the end of June. The ferry company first submitted an application to the village’s building department Sept. 1, 2017, which estimated the total cost for the project to be nearly $10 million.

The area behind the bulkhead is below the vehicle holding area for the ferry, according to Linda DeSimone, the senior structural engineer for Greenman-Pederson, Inc., the design firm overseeing the plan.

“I don’t understand how the village residents are defenseless to this latest issue,” a poster on a closed Facebook group comprised of Port Jeff village residents said Feb. 20, referring to the loud noise. “Projects should include some type of shielding to prevent residences being rattled like this. I wouldn’t expect to pay for my room downtown, and the noise has to be hurting all village businesses. Get that thing shut down and keep it shut down ‘til they provide a plan that protects the residents and businesses. No one wants to live in or spend money in the middle of a noisy shipyard construction project.”

Others joined the poster in questioning when a projected end date for the construction is, and if the noise violated village code. The village does have a section in its code dedicated to noise pollution, which states specific decibel levels not to be exceeded Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. A lower decibel threshold exits for all other hours.

 

One of the exceptions in the noise pollution section of village code is for construction activities, which are permitted to take place only from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. For this project, the village passed a resolution Sept. 18 allowing the repair work at the ferry to be conducted from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

The added hours were approved to expedite the completion of the project.

“The hours of relief requested are on the bookends of the workday, so those hours would be mostly for setup and breakdown,” Village Mayor Margot Garant said in September.

Garant said in an email the village has not received many complaints about the noise.

“It’s unfortunate, but this work needs to happen — the ferry is an important, integral part of our harbor,” she said. The mayor added the village has no plans to revisit the section of its code pertaining to noise pollution, but instead will “stay the course and hope they complete [the work] ahead of schedule.”

The ferry company also addressed the repair work in a November 2017 Facebook post.

“The terminal improvements should improve traffic flows and help us to stage vehicles more efficiently,” the post said. “Thank you for your continued patience and please know how much we appreciate you using our service.”

This post was updated Feb. 26 to include an updated photo and video.

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File photo

The Comsewogue board of education had a community bonding experience Feb. 12.

The school district’s six buildings are in need of upgrades and improvements, according to its facilities committee, a group of 21 professionals from across Comsewogue including members of the board, administrators, architects, engineers, former teachers, civic association members and more. The group was assembled in early January, and has been holding workshops and meetings to compile a list of projects to recommend to the board.

The committee presented a list of more than 100 upgrades considered of the highest priority and identified as the A-list. The projects would take place in each of the district’s schools if a bond referendum were passed. Some of the projects include required upgrades to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; parking lots and sidewalks; security at all of the district buildings; exterior and interior building infrastructure; athletic fields and facilities; and kitchen upgrades among many others.

The total price tag for the A-list would be almost $32 million, paid for during a 15-year period with approximately $3 million in interest, according to the committee. If passed, the average taxpayer would see an increase of about $120 annually to their school tax bill, based on conservative state aid estimates which won’t be known until the spring.

The committee also presented two other potential propositions for the board to consider: one a $9 million B-list of items deemed to be of lower priority and the third a complete overhaul of just the district’s air-conditioning units for approximately $13 million. Members of the committee said after touring the district facilities and buildings, its initial list of projects was in the ballpark of $75 million, which it then pared down to what currently appears on the A-list.

Susan Casali, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, served as the leader of the facilities committee.

“They’ve been phenomenal,” Casali said, of her colleagues on the committee. “It has been a great process, a lot of input, a lot of knowledge. We went through a lot of things and they really worked hard.”

Casali said the committee also took public input along the way from teachers, organizations and others in the community who had requests for upgrades.

“The board needs to know, and the public should know, how very carefully we looked at what items were to make the A-list,” said Joan Nickeson, a member of the Facilities Committee engaged in several aspects of the Comsewogue community. Nickeson also praised the work on the committee of architect Kenneth Schupner and engineer Frederick Seeba.

“The engineers and the architects, I don’t know how well you know these gentlemen, but I was so impressed with their knowledge and their ability to handle a myriad of questions,” she said. “We looked so carefully at every item.”

Stephanie Jaklitsch, a former teacher in the district who also has children attending Comsewogue schools, offered her input as a member of the committee.

“We’ve really touched everywhere that your child could be from safety in the parking lots and curbs, to every elementary classroom getting a face-lift,” she said. “Our students are going to see changes all the way through their education.”

Board of education president John Swenning, and Superintendent Joe Rella each thanked the committee for its thorough work, dedication to improving the Comsewogue environment and generosity in lending each of their personal levels of expertise to the group.

Some of the higher-priced projects included in the committee’s recommendation are: a new roof including solar panels at Terryville Road Elementary School; interior work at JFK Middle School, including some classroom and hallway renovations; and athletic upgrades at the high school to the
concession stand building.

The board will vote March 5 on the recommendations, and if it elects to move forward, to establish the specifics of the bond referendum and how it would appear on a ballot. The referendum would be included as a separate proposition on the same ballot as the annual budget and school board vote to be held May 15.

The full list of project recommendations is expected to be posted and available on the district website, www.comsewogue.k12.ny.us.

This post was updated Feb. 14 for grammatical fixes.

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

As Mount Sinai school district outlines the first part of its budget for the 2018-19 school year, administrators hope to roll out a capital project bond to tackle what board of educations members say are immediate repairs needed across its three buildings.

The proposed $59.6 million budget aims to maintain current programs and stay within the 2 percent tax cap, and includes a transfer of $4.2 million from the district’s unallocated fund balance to pay for emergency repair projects. The transfer — $3.6 million needed for fixes that cannot wait, and extras currently being reviewed to bring the total to $4.2 — will need to be approved by the public.

Mount Sinai school district Superintendent Gordon Brosdal speaks to residents about the proposed budget plans. Photo by Kevin Redding

A bond referendum advisory committee made up of board of education and community members was formed in spring 2017 to prioritize the district’s requested projects list and make recommendations to the board of education based on an architect’s evaluation of the elementary, middle and high school buildings, which began more than three years ago.

Major proposed projects include a partial repair to the high school’s roof, multiple renovations to the building’s auditorium and replacement of its turf. The field hasn’t been improved upon in 15 years, well beyond the average lifespan of turf fields, and the bleachers are currently not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

School board and bond committee member Edward Law said while the district has several dozen projects to tackle — “over $50 million worth of requests” — the group will whittle the priorities down to what it think the community can support at this time.

“The committee is about the district’s facility needs and not just a wish list of everything we might want,” Law said, stressing the repairs in the proposed bond will not go forward without the public’s approval during a referendum vote in May. “At the end of the day, it’s not up to the advisory committee or the board of education. It’s up to the community because it’s theirs and our collective tax dollars we’re talking about.”

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal said using the unallocated fund balance for the repairs will help satisfy directives made by the state’s comptroller during an audit to bring down the balance’s amounts to 4 percent of the annual operating budget. The current fund balance is estimated to $9.9 million, or 16.7 percent of the annual budget.

“Since we have the money, let’s do it and make it happen,” Brosdal said.

District officials said updates on the bond referendum will be presented to the public over the coming months. The next board of education meeting will be held Feb. 28 in the middle school auditorium at 8 p.m.