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Watkins’ $24.6M school expansion is underway   ADVERTISEMENT

Watkins’ $24.6M school expansion is underway

WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Central School District’s building expansion is underway as part of the $24.6 million construction project.
Superintendent Tom Phillips explained the district is adding 19,400 square feet to the 12th Street campus to house all students, kindergarten to 12th grade. Watkins is in the process of moving the students out of the middle school building on Decatur Street, due to an ongoing decrease in the student population.
Watkins expects to have all grade levels on one campus by September, 2014. Phillips explained the high school library wall, facing 12th Street, will be taken down as part of the expansion starting this week. He added people will see the steel and structural supports for the expansion go up in the next month. He said the goal is to have the new parts of the building enclosed by early to mid-December. The cafeteria is also being expanded. Phillips said it should be completed by mid-November, but won’t be used until late December.
In July of this year, the school board approved a letter of intent for SEPP (Serving the Elderly Through Project Planning) Inc. to purchase the middle school for $550,000 and turn it into independent senior housing units. Phillips said the project is currently before the village planning board.
SEPP’s agreement with the school is to create at least 48 affordable housing units, and maintaining the day-to-day costs of the building once the district has closed the middle school. At the July school board meeting, SEPP Executive Director Anthony Fiala described his group’s proposal. SEPP is located out of Binghamton.
Fiala said the units would be meant for seniors, age 55 and older. He said their plan is to apply for funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development in November 2013. However, SEPP wouldn’t be notified about receiving the funds until March of 2014. Fiala added construction could be fully completed 20 months later.
Phillips said, “It’s practically unheard of to have a building developer prior to the students leaving the school.” “It’s a huge relief to the district.”