Bus garage question delays $37 million C-R vote


By Jim Poole

A dilemma about Cobleskill-Richmondville’s bus garage has delayed the public vote on the district’s huge building project.
School officials expected voting on the $37 million proposition––plus a second, several-million proposition for artificial turf––to be in December.
Now, with plans uncertain for the bus garage, the vote may be in March.
“It’s frustrating. . .in capital letters,” Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said Saturday.
“When people think of ‘school,’ they don’t think of bus garage. It’s a low priority.”
But right now, the garage is a high priority for C-R. The current bus garage on Elm Street is in rough shape, as is the equipment in it. C-R has discussed for years whether to renovate, rebuild or relocate, and the building project is to address that.
The original plan was to renovate or rebuild, expanding the 2.5-acre site by buying adjacent property. The rough cost estimate was $5 million to $6 million.
Property negotiations are ongoing but have snagged, leading Mr. Mummenthey and others to consider buying land elsewhere.
C-R at one point considered buying the former Maranatha gym in Warnerville but decided not to.
Still, school officials are looking for convenient sites––preferably with municipal water and sewer, though those services would probably raise the property price.
Whether the garage stays where it is or relocates, the desire is for a minimum of five acres, maybe up to seven, Mr. Mummenthey said.
The overall concern is balancing a new or renovated facility with cost to taxpayers.
“We can’t work without bus drivers,” Mr. Mummenthey said. “They need more space and updated [repair] equipment for safety and efficiency.
“We won’t go forward without a new good solution and what’s right for taxpayers. We want to get it right.”
He expected C-R to reach a solution by the end of December, setting up a public vote in early 2020.
Meanwhile, the district’s Facilities Committee is fine-tuning the rest of the project, including air conditioning at Radez and the high school, safety and security upgrades, improvements to the Ryder and Radez cafeterias, converting the large cafeteria in the former Shelter Building into classroom space, improving locker rooms at Golding and improvements to theaters at Golding and the high school.
The delay in the vote doesn’t change the finances of the project. By the time construction begins––assume voters approve––C-R will have paid off previous debt.
State aid will pay for most of the project. C-R will borrow the remainder of the cost, though that debt will be less than what the district paid off previously.
“The project won’t raise the tax levy,” Mr. Mummenthey said.
The artificial turf for the high school football/soccer field will be a separate proposition. The Facilities Committee is doing more research on player safety, maintenance and other factors with turf, Mr. Mummenthey said.