Renovation project seeing black

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NAUGATUCK — Local officials promised taxpayers the Naugatuck High School renovation project would finish on time and under budget.

So far, it appears they were right.

The NHS Renovation Committee announced during a meeting Monday that the project is expected to come in $4.1 million under the budgeted amount of $81 million, which taxpayers approved through a bond package three years ago. Now the committee is looking at upgrades that might be funded.

“I always said we are going to stay under the budget,” said committee Chairman Bob Neth, a burgess. “There are a lot of negative vibes out there because every time you look at a project, it’s always over budget. So far, with six to eight months to go, we’re succeeding in our goals and granting ‘wish-list’ projects.”

On Monday, the committee announced it would allocate tens of thousands for more handicapped-accessible doorways and ramps on sidewalks; a final number is expected soon. And the board allocated $8,500 for the band to purchase computer software, plus about $19,000 to paint doors and windows in the pool area with a specialized paint product to control rust.

The committee has also decided to draw up plans for a roughly $300,000 outdoor storage facility for athletic equipment.

Committee member Raymond Lennon Jr. said the goal is not to spend all of the leftover money, but to complete as many projects as possible while the committee has money and construction is ongoing.

Several other “wish-list” items are being debated, including:

• $1.3 million to purchase four privately owned houses on Rubber Avenue in front of the high school to make a larger parking lot and increase visibility of the school.

• About $850,000 for technology upgrades, including about 300 laptop computers for students.

•About $90,000 for furniture.

•About $80,000 for tables in the cafeteria.

•About $80,000 for a 40-foot by 80-foot net between the softball field and tennis courts; much of the cost will be put toward poles to hold the net.

The committee may reconsider a roughly $40,000 allocation to place a monitor in the pool area so parents and spectators can watch swim meets on a large screen. Swim parents had previously said they wanted a scoreboard in the seating area rather than the monitor.

The swimming pool has been one of the few areas that have experienced problems during the renovation. Parents have complained about not being able to see some sections of the pool because of obstructed views. The committee has already spent about $120,000 to trim load-bearing beams that hold up the roof because parents said they obstructed the view. That added about 40 seats to the area, bringing the total to 299 seats.

The committee also plans to purchase oscillating fans for the pool seating area to remove condensation that builds up on windows.

The board has also spent $400,000 to replace boilers that were only 14 years old because they were not working properly. And the committee installed air conditioning in the cafeteria that had been put off in previous cafeteria expansion projects at a cost of $450,000.