MASSENA — Massena Central School officials are waiting to hear if their $49.6 million capital project will get the green light to move ahead, but hope to know by the end of the week.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Empire State Development issued an order last Friday that all non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction. Essential construction could continue. That includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters.
Massena Central’s project is currently in state Education Department review.
“We had a capital project meeting this morning via Zoom with our architect and construction manager to get an update and to report we’re very close to SED approval. That may even be by the end of this week. Our goal is to get the project out for contractors to bid on. We’ll be working through our school attorney on the process because we do know that under the governor’s new executive order, there are restrictions on construction,” Superintendent Patrick Brady said.
He said much of the bidding work can be done electronically rather than in person.
“We could do those contractor meetings virtually. We will need to do some tour of our facilities. That’s a process that we’re talking about today. We would look to be making arrangements so there wold be a limited amount of people. We would follow SED guidelines on social distancing and the like,” Mr. Brady said.
He said they would be working with their school attorney to ensure they remained in compliance with the governor’s directives as they moved forward.
“We’re not in a construction phase right now. I know any school in the construction phase is doing the same, working with counsel to see what is essential for health and safety reasons and what is not. We’re not at that stage yet,” he said.
Mr. Brady said, because the project was familiar to many local contractors, “many of them will be prepared to put together a bid. Some of that comes down to whether they can get the information they need with the pricing of materials when we’re in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and some of those costs may change. With everything slowing down, it may take longer for contractors to get their bid because they need to get information.”
The timeline calls for phase one to begin this summer. It will include site work, asbestos abatement and roofs.
“Under ideal circumstances, our timeline stage will start this summer. It’s out of our hands at this point. We would like to get contractors locked up and ready to go,” he said.
As a high needs district, the project will receive 96 percent in state aid, and the $6 million in reserves will make up the difference in the local share. Voters approved the project, 346-41, during a December vote.