The Town of Orange is one step closer to bringing Turkey Hill School up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliancy. At it’s January meeting, the Board of Education voted unanimously to send a plan for improvements to the state for its approval. “Of our four schools, Turkey Hill needs the most work to keep it up to standard and up to code,” board member Christian Young said.
Over the last three years, the Boards of Education and Selectmen, the town’s bond oversight committee, the schools’ finance committee and buildings and grounds committees have been working on securing funding to invest in ADA improvements at all school facilities including Turkey Hill. Part of the funds will come from the bond that the town took in 2017 to pay for capital projects.
“Through diligence, perseverance and hard work, the finance committee and the bond committee have presented the final plans which includes handicapped access to the building, ramps, doorways, bathrooms, playground access—a lot of things that our other schools have, but Turkey Hill does not, based on the age of its construction,” Young said.
Prior to the Board of Education meeting, the Buildings and Grounds committee voted unanimously to go ahead with the project that has been a few years in the works. “The funds have already been received by the town, it’s bond money, not new money that comes out of our Board of Education budget,” said Young. “This is work that we’ve been waiting to get done and we are waiting on the green light from Hartford to go ahead.”
Young explained that even though the town has approved the project and ultimate approval lies with the state, the board is being asked to also approve it. “We are involved not because it’s our money, and not because it’s our project—the buildings belong to the town—but because it impacts the educational process and the educational system. That is why we are part of the approval process. Our affirmation of the project is necessary for Hartford to give the green light,” Young said.
Schools’ Facilities Director Mike Luzzi said, “We’re looking for two motions, to accept the final total and then the job scope, so that when we go to Hartford, we have everything in order. Buildings and Grounds Committee did approve.”
“This motion was initially brought two years ago with a series of events to take place. The state asked us to include everything possible that could use ADA upgrades. They don’t want us to come back. Initially we weren’t looking at the playgrounds. One new addition to the plan is to make the playgrounds handicapped accessible. This is an allocation of funds that the town was required to set aside for ADA improvements,” Luzzi said.
Once approved by the state, work will begin in the spring.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent