U-CF revamps facilities plan

A modified Long Range Facilities Plan was one of the topics of discussion for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board Monday night. Even before the subject came up during the agenda, it was a topic of resident comments.

Former School Board Director Holly Manzone said she was pleased to see the outdoor facilities plan has been “pared down to a much, much more realistic and reasonable proposal.”

She added there are still some things — such as eight tennis courts and two artificial turf fields — that she doesn’t think are necessary, however.

Mark Stookey, of Chadds Ford Township, echoed Manzone’s comments, saying the down-sized proposal is “more consistent with what makes sense,” adding “I think this confirms that the [original] process — the needs analysis — was flawed.”

Stookey said that previous plan “basically developed every square inch of our campus. As we stood back from that, we found it was hard to justify.”

The newer proposal was presented by Superintendent of Building and Grounds James Whitesel who stressed that it’s not a done deal.

If approved as is, the plan calls for spending $12 million over a three-year period, from 2019 to 2021. About $4 million would be spent in each of those three years.

During that time period, money would be spent on kitchen and cafeteria renovation at CF Patton Middle School, library renovations at Patton and Chadds Ford Elementary School, upgrades to waste treatment plant at CFES, Phase-2 HVAC system replacement at Hillendale, chiller replacements at Pocopson and Unionville elementary schools and fire alarm system upgrades.

Still under consideration is the addition of double turf fields at the middle and high schools in 2022.

The outdoor portion of the facilities plan was originally planned as a $10 million project, but that’s been scaled back, as was noted by Manzone and Stookey earlier in the evening.

Whitesel said, “For the first three years of this plan…there are only two projects that are listed from that study. They total about $550,000, about 5 percent of the $10 million plan. And about $400,000 of that is dependent on whether we decide to install a double turf field in year four.”

However, he said, implementing the plan would require borrowing.

“The borrowing will be in the spring after we determine the final list of projects and budgets,” he said, and actual construction costs still have to be determined and must still be approved by the board.

School Board President Jeff Hellrung and Vice President Vic Dupuis spoke in favor of the fields.

“This kind of turf has proven itself. The usage of our fields is staggering,” Hellrung said. And while the initial cost is high, maintaining the fields over the years is less expensive, he added.

Dupuis concurred and both said they’d like to see the fields put in behind the middle school.

A copy of the Long Range Facilities Plan can be found here.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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