SALEM Officials look at property

School officials say it would cost less to operate their own bus facility.
SALEM -- City school officials are moving away from a plan to construct a bus garage near the high school and are concentrating on an effort to buy a building to house the facility.
The school board is focusing on a commercial building in the 1000 block of Franklin Avenue, Superintendent Dr. Dave Brobeck said.
Asking price for the structure is about $200,000.
School officials are trying to negotiate a deal in which the building's owner, Herron Transfer Co. of Salem, would pay for improvements to the facility, which the district would then buy, Brobeck explained.
The school district's architectural consultants say the building's restroom, and heating and ventilation system need to be upgraded. Some structural improvements also are necessary, Brobeck continued.
School officials have largely dismissed a previous idea to build a new $300,000 bus garage near the high school off North Lincoln Avenue.
Residents living near the proposed site have objected to that plan, saying the garage would be a source of noise and diesel fumes.
"That's not what our desire is right now," Brobeck said regarding building a new structure near the high school. "We're focusing on this other property."
School officials have said the district could save money by operating its own bus garage to house its nearly 17-bus fleet.
Right now, the district pays about $95,000 annually to have its buses housed and maintained at a private facility on Prospect Street.
Ted Cougras, district treasurer and building supervisor, has said the district would spend about $70,000 annually operating its own facility, which would include the cost of having a district-employed mechanic to maintain the buses.
A $70,000 annual operating expense would produce a nearly $25,000 annual savings.
Even if the district were to buy or build a bus garage, the new facility would pay for itself over a matter of years, Cougras has said.
Brobeck said the school board expects in the next few weeks to make a decision whether to buy the Franklin Avenue property.

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