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Lakeland investing $6 million for district im-provements

The Lakeland School Board approved a total of $6 million in improvements that will include projects at each of the district’s buildings, as well as a new administration building.

At Monday’s meeting, the board reviewed the projects around the district, including the largest – work on the HVAC system at the middle school, which is expected to cost up to $1.8 million.

Other projects include gymnasium work at Parkside, Lima-Brighton and Wolcott Mills elementary schools; investigating putting wells in at the high school in lieu of city water; lighting at the baseball, softball and soccer fields at the high school; and renovations to the Lima-Brighton office/entrance area for better safety.

The projects also include the administration center to be built on the high school campus. The board approved going with a smaller basement in the administration building as well as a more traditional HVAC system to reduce the overall costs to under the budgeted amount of $975,000. Architect Kari Vilamaa told the board that they hope to get more bids this time with the design changes.

Board member Sue Keenan lobbied to keep the full basement, feeling that it would save the corporation over time when additional space is needed. “I would like to see a full basement for needs down the road,” she said.

Steve Sherck spoke to the board to ask about the placement of the building, noting that he felt it blocked the view of the high school, as well as the bidding process. Sherck told the board that some local contractors would not be able to bid on the project due to the overall cost of the project. “The public would like to see contractors from the area bid on it, but they can’t when it’s a big project,” Sherck stated.

Vilamaa said that they want area contractors to bid, and that they need to contact him or general contractors to work with them to be a part of the bidding process. Bids are being accepted from a general contractor, who is then responsible for the subcontractors.

Sherck also asked if the district had considered existing buildings. Board President Bob Bond noted that they had, but they want to put the corporation office at the high school to make it more accessible. “We want it somewhere where the community can be more involved,” Bond said, noting that few people in the area know where the current administration building is located.

He also added that the existing buildings they did investigate were made for manufacturing and did not work for what the corporation needed.

Bids for the new administration center will be opened on July 16.