New service center program revealed
A revised program for the planned Allen ISD service center was presented to the Allen ISD Board of Trustees at its Monday workshop.
The new program, requested by trustees in January, was developed by district staff and an architectural consultant after several meetings with the district's department heads and administrators.
Their mission: to find out which functions are still needed, which are not, and what new needs have arisen since the program was first developed in early 2009.
Facilities Director Greg Suttle explained to the trustees that while many areas -- such as restrooms, storage rooms, training facilities and reception areas -- were able to be combined among departments to save on square footage, some additional needs were discovered, adding to the footprint of certain departments.
For example, the square footage of the service center's shop area increased from 19,000 to 24,000 due to the addition of two bays and a degreasing area that steam-cleans grit and grime from bus parts to be carried off-site for disposal. Additionally, the facilities, custodial and athletic grounds departments were incorporated in the facility to address the district's dwindling available storage space for those functions.
The new program places the overall square footage of the facility at 112,572, nearly 800 feet less than the plan as laid out by the original program. The final footprint of the facility could increase or decrease from current estimates depending on the potential size of the walls, ventilation shafts, electrical and custodial rooms, and other as-yet-unknown factors, Suttle said.
The size of a single facility means little, however, to opponents of the $36.5 million service center, who wish to see the existing service center on Butler Circle renovated and the other functions of the new facility "decoupled" into several smaller buildings throughout the district's more industrially located areas.
Residents living near the proposed site at Watters Road and Bossy Boots Drive were elated in January to hear trustees ask staff members to look into the possible implications of such a plan. Now that the programming needs have been reviewed, the district is gearing up for how that might be done and how much it might cost.
"Right now, I think those discussions will probably take place in April," board President Gary Stocker told the Allen American Wednesday. "We haven't seen the environmental study information yet. I expect that within the next 30-45 days, and that information along with the new revised cost estimates will help us make our decisions as we move into the next phases of the project."
Another process northwest Allen residents have been closely observing has been the environmental study the board asked staff members to commission at the same January meeting.
The district has been in talks with Weston Solutions, a consulting group that offers environmental assessments of new and planned facilities including an analysis of potential site contaminants, said Tim Carroll, director of public information for AISD. The group's website says it has conducted studies for thousands of commercial and government sites.
The district asked Weston for an impartial evaluation of the impact on local air and water quality of cars, buses, trucks and on-site facilities at the service center, Carroll said. A professional services contract is being drafted but has not yet been approved.
"We ask the experts what they should be providing to us; basically asking the experts, 'Give us your opinion on what you think we should be evaluating," Stocker said.
Sudeep Gupta, founder of StopTheBarn.org, said he is still disappointed with the lack of communication from the board in terms of where the district's inquiries into the service center stand.
He said he attended Monday's meeting hoping for more in-depth discussion of the decoupling process but had no way of knowing which aspect of the center's program would be discussed.
"When we don't get that kind of clear information, we assume the worst," he said. "Maybe that's not fair, but there are a lot of people who are worried about this, and we have to get back to rebuilding the trust."
The board's next meeting is set for March 26.
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