Tamaqua Area board mulls security upgrades

·2 min read

May 18—Tamaqua Area School District directors will take more time to review revised plans that detail securing district building entrances.

AEM Architects provided the board with the information last week.

After some discussion, several directors — including Daniel Schoener — said they'd feel more comfortable if they had more time to review.

"Then we can discuss whether we want to add stuff or keep it as it is so we can keep moving," Schoener said.

AEM originally presented a full feasibility study to the board in October. It looked at much more than just securing the entrances, and came at a cost of $77 million. The study was requested by the Tamaqua Safety Commission.

The board eventually asked AEM to place more focus on securing entryways and to keep the costs within the $6 million range.

On May 11, architects returned with modified plans.

Based on what the options the district chooses, the project can cost up to $7.25 million. After about an hour of discussions, directors suggested that they tour the buildings to see what the proposed work would entail.

Superintendent Ray Kinder Jr. asked the board whether they'd like to add a motion to next week's voting agenda that would ask architects to prepare bid specifications.

"If after we meet on Monday and we come to the meeting on Tuesday and you do not want to move down the road, you just vote no," Kinder said.

Director Nicholas Boyle, however, mentioned that he was in touch with a friend in Norfolk, Virginia, who is temporarily out of work because of the gas shortage. He also mentioned that a local gas supplier was out of gasoline Tuesday evening. Building supplies are also at a premium, he noted.

"The cost of that project is going to skyrocket," Boyle said.

Director Trina Shellhammer also said she's concerned about the prices of materials.

"Do we pause and wait because the architects want to move forward but they're paid on a percentage of the project?" she asked.

Schoener suggested directors talk to AEM again.

"If we get through the whole process, we get to bidding and the numbers come in at $8 million and we don't want to make that jump, what happens if we re-bid it in a year? What are the additional costs from (the architects)?" Schoener said.

Kinder said he would get the information from AEM. He also encouraged directors to contact him with any additional questions for the firm in advance of Tuesday's regular meeting.

Contact the writer: jwhalen@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3592.