Design work begins for improvements at Brandywine

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A workshop outlining schematic design plans for Brandywine Public Schools' facilities improvement project was held at Bell Education Center in Niles on Monday.
Several similar workshops will be held to ensure continuity in communication between architects, construction management company, school board members and staff.
The meetings are also held to ensure funds made available through the $14.42 million bond issue, which passed in June, are used where needed most, and that staff and school board members have a chance to give their input on project plans.
Initial detailed estimates made by Skanska, the project's construction management company, based on the schematic plan, show the project currently at 6.81 percent, or $982,000 above budget.
Bert Booy, an estimator with Skanska, however, isn't worried that the budget currently exceeds funds available.
Booy said the schematic design is only the first step in the process of coming up with solutions that will cover the needs of the school district while remaining within budget.
Representatives from Hebard &Hebard, the South Bend, Ind.-based architect firm doing the architectural work on the facilities improvement project, gave an update on their schematic plans on Monday.
Richard D. Hebard, one of the company's architects, went through the plans school by school.
While explaining his vision for Merritt Elementary, the discussion centered on whether the school district wants to build a new kitchen at Merritt, or renovate the kitchen currently in place at Brandywine Elementary.
Although planned for Merritt, Hebard said there is room in the bond language for a kitchen to be built at Brandywine Elementary.
The issue is whether it will be easier to transport food from Brandywine Elementary to Merritt Elementary.
It would require less resources to satellite food from Brandywine to Merritt, which has about half of Brandywine Elementary's students.
While going through the schematic plans for Brandywine Elementary, the discussion focused on improving the school's parking situation.
Hebard said there are also electrical issues that still need to be addressed at that school.
Traffic also became an issue when Hebard explained his plans to reduce traffic congestion at Brandywine Middle/High School.
The firm's schematic design showed plans to have bus staging at the northside of the middle-high school building.
Philip Bozung, school board trustee, however, expressed a concern that that solution would destroy the starting area for one of the best cross country courses in Michigan.
Although not included in the bond language, several board members also expressed a wish that the architects look into improving the school's locker rooms and showers.
Greg Harrison, school board trustee, said current conditions are "unusable, and also not tolerable."
Although several more issues are likely to be brought up as designs are finalized and construction begins, Gary Campbell, the school district's interim superintendent is satisfied with where the project is currently at.