YOUNGSTOWN SCHOOLS Board OKs plan to seek bids involving Taft Elementary

The demolition of Taft and construction of the new West Elementary School are running into problems.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Although the job is projected to cost more than twice as much as estimated four years ago, the board of education has authorized the administration to seek bids for asbestos removal and demolition of Taft Elementary School.
The board gave the authorization Tuesday evening after learning that Cleveland-based Heery International, its project manager, has estimated the combined asbestos removal and demolition will cost $300,234 -- more than twice the $148,970 estimate given four years ago by Karlsberger Companies of Columbus to the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission.
No specific figure for asbestos removal was shown in Karlsberger's 1998 estimate, but it was included in Karlsberger's $119,176 demolition cost estimate. Karlsberger had estimated another $29,794 for nonconstruction costs to come up with the $148,970 total.
Breaking down estimate
In Heery's current estimate, asbestos removal alone will cost $123,200; demolition will cost another $143,884; and nonconstruction costs will be $33,150 for a total of $300,234. Nonconstruction costs include architect's and consultant's fees, testing fees, liability insurance and printing of bid documents.
Asked about the cost overrun, Anthony DeNiro, executive director of school business affairs, said the most recent asbestos study by Professional Service Industries of Girard was "a lot more intensive" than the previous one.
"We won't be able to absorb these types of overruns building after building," said Board Member Gerri Sullivan. "Obviously, someone made a mistake," she added.
After the building, which closed in June, is demolished, a new Taft Elementary School will be built on the same site at 3115 Gibson St. In the interim, Taft pupils will be at Bennett Elementary School, 767 Mabel St.
Other problems
The board is also running into troubles across town with another part of its $182.5 million, six-year schools construction and renovation project, the construction of the new West Elementary School at Schenley Park.
DeNiro said City Law Director John McNally IV told him council members are reluctant to provide four acres of city-owned land there for the new West building while the board has a lawsuit for back taxes pending against Corrections Corp. of America, owner of the now-empty prison on Hubbard Road, in a dispute over tax breaks the city gave CCA.
"I have a personal objection to holding those children hostage over politics. If we don't stand firm, we will be doing a grave disservice to the children that we are charged to educate," Sullivan said. Board members unanimously said Tuesday they opposed dropping the lawsuit.

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