Back to school in New Paltz

Pictured is Billy Townshend of Clintondale. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Pictured is Billy Townshend of Clintondale. (photo illustration by Lauren Thomas)

When dropping off their kids at the front parking lot next week, New Paltz Middle School parents can expect one-way traffic. Entry into the front lot will only occur from South Manheim Boulevard, and the lone exit will be a right-only turn onto Main Street, according to superintendent Maria Rice. “Why are we doing it? Well, parents were concerned about children’s safety. Parents wanted to see if there was something we could do to increase the traffic flow,” Rice said.

For some parents, a right-only turn onto Main Street could cause some extra driving time, which the superintendent acknowledged. “This is going to inconvenience some people.”

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Children who walk to school tend to skip the sidewalks, taking a shortcut through the grass next to the old district office. This used to mean that they crossed the parking lot in front of drivers circling around to return to Manheim.

This move should keep kids safe as they traverse the parking lot to get to the front door, the superintendent said.

The Manheim-Main intersection is one of New Paltz’s busiest crossings. Traffic comes from and to SUNY New Paltz, the nearby Convenient Deli shopping plaza and the middle school.

With its highly visible, central location, New Paltz Middle School and its traffic safety are a perennial parent concern.

This traffic modification is a “temporary solution,” Rice said. However, it is possible that — as part of the middle school renovations — a similar drop-off route will be adopted as permanent.

District officials are currently working with the state Department of Transportation to create a full-fledged traffic study. That document will almost certainly lead to modifications of student drop-offs.

 

Small capital project repairs to start in September

Astute New Paltzians probably noticed drillers exploring New Paltz Middle School last week. The reason for that work, according to Superintendent Rice, is to find the building’s foundations.

Back in July, school board members learned of the middle school’s missing blueprints. While the situation has improved since then, some structural plans are still missing.

“We keep finding different pieces of the blueprints — we have been finding some, but none of them are showing the foundation,” the superintendent said.

Crews are using a process called “field verification” to find out where the original foundation sits.

“They have to drill holes next to certain key areas and go down a certain number of feet … just to see what the foundation is like,” Rice said. “They’ll be drilling holes all around the middle school.”

Next up in terms of capital project work are the folding walls at Lenape Elementary School and the high school.

According to the district’s architect, replacement work on the folding walls will occur from September to October. Kids won’t see that work, since it will happen after school hours.

However, Superintendent Rice wanted neighbors of Lenape and New Paltz Central High School to know that trucks will be coming and going during “second-shift hours” to fix those walls.

During a special election in March, voters approved $52.9 million capital project to fix up the district’s four school buildings.

That capital project work is broken up into phases. Here’s a look at the tentative construction timeline for the buildings:

  • Lenape and Duzine elementary schools: Most work will start and finish in summer 2016.
  • High school: Work will occur in two phases; first in summer 2016, second in summer 2017.
  • Middle school: Work will begin in summer 2016, but will continue until September 2018, with completion in time for the school year’s start.

During renovations, “we will endeavor to ensure that the educational programs will not be impacted,” Rice added.

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