HOWELL – An application for various site improvements at Howell High School was brought before the Howell Township Planning Board recently. The project aims to reconstruct five tennis courts, perform roof replacements and make improvements to areas of the parking lots at the high school.
While the application was presented to the Planning Board for review, board attorney Ronald Cuchiarro noted that the board does not have the ability to approve or deny this application.
“When a government entity spends money on a capital improvement, they are required to come to the local planning board to present the proposed improvement,” said Cuchiarro, remarking that the board can only listen and provide recommendations.
“The proposed work is to deal with degrading plane surfaces of the tennis courts,” said John Veisz, principal architect for the project.
Veisz explained that there will be minor degrading to the tennis courts to create a positive flow along the surface. There will also be some parts of the roof replaced and some portions of the parking lots will be improved.
With the improvements of the parking lot, there will not be any curb replacements as of this time, according to Veisz. “The intent is to deal with degraded paving.”
The engineering consultant on the project, Van Cleef Engineering, intends to reuse the surface for paving so the lots will undergo a two-inch milling, and then distressed areas or cracks will be repaired and replaced, according to Veisz. The area will then get a two-inch asphalt overlay with striping, “to match the current existing configuration.”
“It’s really just an upgrade to existing improvements or a rehabilitation of existing improvements,” said Laura Neumann, Board Engineer, on the project.
During the Planning Board meeting, there were no recommendations made to the application by the board nor any comments or questions from the public on the site improvements.
Veisz remarked that there will be a public referendum on Oct. 2 for the proposed improvements.
The project at HHS is part of a larger project in the Freehold Regional High School District, referred to as FRHSD: Enduring Excellence, which is a district-wide proposal to reinvest in the schools. Other schools in the district, including Colts Neck High School, Freehold High School, Freehold Township High School, Manalapan High School, and Marlboro High School, will all be seeing improvements as well.
According to the district website, “The proposed bonds are for $39.8 million. The timing for the referendum is ideal, as existing debt from the last referendum the district issued – the construction of Colts Neck High School nearly 20 years ago – is expiring. As a result, these upgrades will have no negative tax impact on our community members, as the dollars saved from expiring debt will be reinvested into our facilities to cover the costs.
“If the FRHSD chose not to reinvest these funds into our buildings, taxpayers would see a 3 percent reduction in the overall tax levy. With the reinvestment into new bonds, tax payers will still see a 1 percent decrease.”
The referendum is prioritizing security, modern learning environments, athletic facilities, and infrastructure.
Of the total cost of $39.8 million for the referendum projects, safety and security improvements are estimated to cost $5,018,835 for a combination of vestibule and interior door locks and PA system upgrades. Modern learning environment upgrades will cost approximate $10,171,506 and include STEM classrooms, auditorium renovations, and media center renovations. Athletic facility improvements will run about $14,196,399 for turf field, bleachers, tennis court, and track resurfacing projects. And total infrastructure costs will be $10,413,261 for roofing, paving, and HVAC projects.
The timeline laid out on the district website noted that the security upgrades will follow October 2018, and further improvement projects will be worked on in during the summers of 2019 and 2020.
More information on the specific improvements for each school can be found on sites.google.com/frhsd.com/referendum2018/home.