Even as the current capital project in the New Paltz School District is winding down, facilities committee members are looking to borrow more money to address other issues, including some regarding safety.
Facilities committee chair Teresa Thompson told her board colleagues last week that with some issues still outstanding, such as the roof of the Lenape school, committee members have been actively seeking input from school community members as to what else might be put into a “small bond.” By her account, these presentations are somewhat detailed; the group seeking to build an art gallery has a local architect in on the planning, she said. The other pitch committee members heard at their last meeting was for a pool, since reportedly swim team practices are presently scheduled “at the whim” of college officials, and “that’s an issue.” Committee member Glenn LaPolt touched on how a school pool would be an asset to the community, and asserted that people of color are 800 times more likely to die by drowning. A past president of SUNY New Paltz once compared community members seeking to use campus facilities to residents of a prison town making a similar request, driving home the notion that the state campus is as open to local residents as the current leaders desire. Presumably public school facilities, largely funded by local taxpayers, would be more consistently available for those not attending the school in question.
Michael O’Donnell poured some cold water on such ideas, saying, “We’re not seeking reasons to have a bond,” and that “no bond is an option.”
That rankled Thompson, who said, “Now I’m angry,” and explained that she feels more input from members of the community is always a good thing. She did clarify that she sees this exploration as yielding results over “years,” not in the short term.
Former board member Edgar Rodriguez offered that one of the reasons the middle school bond failed last decade was because of the inclusion of a pool.
O’Donnell, for his part, said that asking people for proposals gives the impression that “we’re racing to have a bond,” while he believes that best way forward in evaluating infrastructure needs is to start with a building condition survey. This is a process controlled by state officials, who this year announced that because they don’t have enough staff members to review these reports that they will be issuing a schedule of when they can be performed. To conduct this in-depth analysis early would mean not getting state aid to fund the effort. Finding out what year the survey will be authorized in New Paltz is a topic of keen interest to board members.