School opts for different building site

Unified School District 410 will not be locating its central offices and transportation and maintenance center in the former AMPI building after all.

At a special meeting Wednes?day, the board approved the purchase of 10 acres immediately south of the city?s maintenance shop along the north end of Adams Street. It plans to build the facility on that site.

The 10-acre plot, owned by Hillsboro Development Corp. and once designated for a housing development, will cost the district $30,000.

The sale is contingent on the land meeting all local zoning and platting requirements.

Plans for the new facility are still being finalized, but the building is expected to provide about 6,900 square feet on the main floor, with a partial second story for mezzanine storage.

The new facility will house the central offices, now located in the elementary school, as well as transportation and maintenance services, which are based on the high school campus.

Original plan

The decision represents a significant change from what the board proposed in preparation for the $6.625 million bond election that was approved by voters June 5.

In the original proposal, the board was planning to move those services into the former AMPI building, now owned by the city of Hillsboro, at a projected cost of $475,000. This new plan is projected to cost $921,000, including the land purchase.

Rod Koons, board president, said the additional cost can be covered within the $6.625 million total?even if the athletic facility that was proposed to be built in partnership with Tabor College, now stalled by litigation, would move forward as planned.

?There was an amount of blue sky in the (bond proposal) number because we had looked at a new facility also,? he said. ?Kind of toward the end of the game, the AMPI thing came in and I think it caught our eye and made us feel good because it was less dollars. I think that?s maybe what drove us for a while.?

Koons said some of the savings created by moving into the AMPI building would have been used to pay down the bond debt sooner. That money will now be channeled toward the newly proposed facility.

Also, the board will likely economize on some aspects of the building plan. For example, Koons said, the exterior of the proposed building will be entirely steel, as opposed to ?dressing it up? with a brick facea.

Additional savings may be generated if other components of the total project come in under architectural estimates.

?I think architects shoot a little high,? Koons said. ?It?s important in their business not to come in over (their cost projections).

Changing direction

Koons said the board began reconsidering its direction after an April fire damaged an area of the AMPI building that the district had identified for its potential use.

?I just think after the fire it didn?t look as good anymore,? he said. ?I don?t know if it exposed some things we didn?t see before, or if we were blinded by trying to do the right thing before.?

Koons said the board had been attracted to the old building originally because it would make good use of property that was already taxpayer owned.

But with the fire, he said, the board began to rethink what made the most sense financially in the long run.

?Even though it was less dollars and cents, and we were going to get more footage, it just seemed like we were going to be doing something half way, and then when we got done it really wouldn?t be something we wanted.?

Another attraction of the North Adams property was its proximity to the fiber optics line that runs along U.S. Highway 56, less than 100 yards from the proposed site, Koons said.

The line should enable the district to hook up relatively inexpensively to the Technology Excellence in Education Network.

?Being close to the TEEN fiber probably cemented that deal as much as anything,? Koons said.

Disappointed, not surprised

Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke said she wasn?t surprised by the board?s change of plans.

?I would say I?m disappointed, but there will be another use for that building,? Dalke said. ?And maybe keeping it all intact is the way it?s supposed to be. Maybe we?ll land a big (tenant) this way.

?I?m still working on that, trying to find somebody who could use the whole building.?

A December start

In addition to voting to purchase property and looking at preliminary plans for the new building, the board reviewed minor revisions in the floor plans for the renovation projects moving forward for the elementary and high-school facilities.

Representatives from Howard & Helmer, the architectural firm working for the district, projected construction could begin as early as December.

The board plans to interview representatives from three prospective construction companies later this month.

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