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Memo to Leadership 113 : More Work To Be Done

Last evening, the Leadership group presented an update on their work to the 113 School Board. This isn't the final word. There is more work to be done.

On Monday night, the .

Trip Hainsfurther and David Brint made a terrific presentation, but as will happen in any presentation of a complex subject like this, there were some things left unsaid or said in a way that they got lost among other points. This isn't a minority report, just some additional personal observations. I speak for myself, not the Leadership Group.

First, we never discussed the issue of This has been and I think the topic is relevant in any conversation of the Long Term Facilities Plan.

Second, and not unrelated to the first point, we should make an explicit commitment to upgrade and make more useful the current square footage (over 900,000 square feet between Deerfield High School and ) versus expansion of our physical plant. When you add extra square footage, there is the first cost (of planning and construction) but also the ongoing costs of operation and maintenance. One way to limit these costs is to make the facility no larger than it needs to be. It was the proposed large expansion that I believe helped fuel opposition .

Third, it appears from early observations by three different engineers that the moisture issues in B and C Buildings can be mitigated and/or managed in an economical way. This will be confirmed in an independent study that the School District will contract. As our report Monday night says, the buildings should remain unless repairs aren't feasible (meaning the costs to repair exceed or even approach replacement cost).

Fourth, if the B and C buildings are renovated, this can be done without necessarily gutting and reconfiguring the interior in its entirety. When the expression "Space is Space" is made, that is true in the purest sense only. To convert one type of space to another, depending on the complexity of the conversion, this can be a costly undertaking. If plans for conversion become too elaborate and expensive, this actually raises the threat of their removal. All other things being equal, it will be less expensive to renovate at least the B building without major reconfiguration (while still addressing critical elements such as electrical/mechanical systems and windows) versus the gut rehab route. This is a subject that needs to be further examined by Perkins and Will, our new architects.

Fifth, the elephant in the room: What will this cost? What should we allow this to cost? What will this community be prepared to support?

Finally, while I recently made the comment that I didn't want to tie the architects hands by being overly specific, there is a hazard in giving them an open-ended agenda. Last evening's presentation still leaves much to be interpreted and it is important that the community stay involved in helping to prioritize and make the hard decisions yet to be made. An Oversight Committee is a good way to do this.

The sooner, the better.

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David Greenberg May 23, 2012 at 10:25 PM
This is a topic discussed many times in the 1914/et. al Study group. The general consensus was to keep the buildings if it made fiscal sense, and if we could get at least another 25-50 years out of them by doing so. By way of an example: * Are the buildings in good structural shape? Yes. * Can we get another 50 years out of them if we rehab them? Maybe. * 30 years? Definitely. * What's it cost to rehab? $5 million * What's it cost to build new? $10 million. ** Rehab it is! Now if that amount narrowed to something like a $2 million difference, one could likely make the case that it's more cost effective to build new because we could get much more than 50 years out of the building, so it'd be less expensive in the long run. No one was "married" to the buildings. They're certainly nice to have around, but if it makes fiscal sense to tear them down, we're not going to lose sleep over it. As for a "gut/rehab" - what we do and how we do it depends on the PURPOSE for the building in question. If it remains as classrooms, that's one cost. If it becomes offices, that's another cost. So it's important to have an overall Master Plan laid out so we can do the proper cost analyses.
Let's Get Real May 24, 2012 at 03:12 AM
It is interesting that the comments made by Mr. Becker are basically the same points that are in the Education First plan
Harry Steindler May 24, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Let's recognize that the demographic study (which, as in projections of all types will prove to be inaccurate) takes us out to 2020. 2020 is just 8 years from now, In all likelihood the work done at the schools will not be put into service until 2015 or 2016 at the earliest. We have talked about this being a long-range plan - improving the facilities to carry us for the next 25 to 50 years. Are projected enrollment figures (which even the demographers state are tenuous as best) 4 years into the life of the new project relevant to what we should be planning for the next 25-50 years? I say absolutely not. If we plan on having a shrinking community, that's what we will end up with. If we plan on facilities to foster the continued attractiveness and viability of Highland Park and Deerfield than that's what we will achieve.
Richard Becker AIA May 25, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Dan, thanks for taking the time to look at what I wrote last year and comparing with what I wrote this week. You're correct---my thinking has shifted (but not a lot) over the last year. Spending many dozens of hours meeting with other "stakeholders" will do that to you. I still believe that these buildings are worth saving, but as I've often stated, including in a 2011 talk-back, I don't think Highland Parkers should be asked to underwrite a preservation project solely for the purpose of preservation. If there is still utility in the buildings, then it seems reasonable to extend their useful life. The point I was trying to make about elaborate rehabs is that you will always hit a tipping point where it is more "practical" to tear down and reconstruct. BTW, updating finishes and incorporating new furniture to use the smaller classrooms more efficiently won't necessarily break the bank. But the more one loads up the agenda with requirements, the sooner that point comes. It's a fine line. We don't want to tie the hands of the architects, nor do we want to say, "Here are 200 pages of program notes, now go knock yourself out."
Richard Becker AIA May 25, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Actually, some of these college buildings have been re-purposed and reconfigured, while others are in the same configuration as originally designed. It would depend on a lot of things such as how useful the original layout was and how much money is on the table. In the case if B at least, this building is configured with classrooms, albeit on the small side. Classrooms, last time I checked, are still a common occurrence in schools.

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