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