$7-mil­lion cost for Hill Park ren­o­va­tions will be cut

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - RICHARD LEITNER

A $7-mil­lion bill for re­open­ing the former Hill Park Se­condary School for adult and al­ter­na­tive ed­u­ca­tion classes will be cut by about a quar­ter by scal­ing back ren­o­va­tions.

Hamilton pub­lic school board trea­surer Stacey Zucker said staff is con­fi­dent it can stay within an orig­i­nal $5.2-mil­lion bud­get by favour­ing re­pairs over re­place­ment where pos­si­ble and shelv­ing some up­grades.

She said the big­gest sav­ings will come from scrap­ping some of the $1.8 mil­lion in work rec­om­mended by an out­side con­sul­tant to ac­com­mo­date the board’s archives, pres- ently housed at the former Vin­cent Massey school on the east Mountain.

Can­celled up­grades in­clude a room with hu­mid­ity con­trol and an area for paint­ing and re­pairs, fea­tures not avail­able at Vin­cent Massey, she said.

“The need-ver­sus-want dis­cus­sion needs to hap­pen there more than any­where else,” Zucker told trustees at their fi­nance and fa­cil­i­ties meet­ing.

“There is room to im­prove; it’s just that mag­ni­tude and the amount of dol­lars.”

Trustees sent the $7-mil­lion Hill Park bill back to staff on Jan. 23, ob­ject­ing that ren­o­va­tions ex­ceeded those ap­proved for the board’s open high schools by in­clud­ing items like new floor­ing, ceil­ing tiles and re­place­ment of all win­dows.

Zucker said only bro­ken win­dows will be re­placed, while the new floor­ing and ceil­ing tiles are just in ar­eas that were dam­aged by a flood.

In­sur­ance will cover some of the lat­ter costs, but not re­quired up­grades to meet the cur­rent build­ing code, like coat­ing ceil­ing pipes with a fire-re­sis­tant spray, she said. Re­place­ment of a rooftop ven­ti­la­tion unit will also re­quire as­bestos abate­ment.

“It wasn’t a wish list,” Zucker said. “There are things that, once you open up the walls, we have to ad­dress that we wouldn’t have to ad­dress if we didn’t open up the walls.”

Stoney Creek trustee Jeff Beat­tie said a staff re­port on Jan. 23 was shy on de­tails and he’s com­fort­able with the planned work now that the project is back within its orig­i­nal bud­get.

Along with the archives, Hill Park will take adult and con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams from Vin­cent Massey, the Red Hill Learn­ing Cen­tre in east Hamilton and Mountain Se­condary, set to close in June.

Zucker said most of the work will oc­cur this sum­mer and staff is hope­ful Hill Park will be ready by Septem­ber.

She said the planned sale of Vin­cent Massey and Red Hill likely won’t cover ren­o­va­tion costs, but Hill Park can po­ten­tially gen­er­ate rev­enue from out­side part­ner­ships and take more con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion classes once leases at other lo­ca­tions ex­pire.

The need-ver­suswant dis­cus­sion needs to hap­pen. STACEY ZUCKER SCHOOL BOARD TREA­SURER

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