Mechanicsburg Borough Council conditionally approved a land development plan on Tuesday night for the Mechanicsburg Area School District’s Kindergarten Academy expansion and renovation project.
The school district plans to renovate the 55-year-old building on Filbert Street and add a classroom wing to accommodate steadily growing enrollment in the district. A second floor built over the new classroom wing will house the district’s administration offices.
The borough’s planning commission recommended the plan for approval, borough engineer Greg Rogalski told borough council members. Although the plan still carries “a few outstanding comments,” Rogalski said he doesn’t consider any of the issues to be major, with most pertaining to stormwater management.
“Most of the things have been worked out because the plan has been presented three times to the planning commission,” Rogalski said.
The borough council also unanimously accepted five waiver requests from the school district for the project. Waivers range from regulations for concrete pipes and collars to crediting existing vegetation toward landscape requirements.
The Mechanicsburg Area School Board is expected to approve contractor bids for the Kindergarten Academy project soon, with construction beginning in the spring. Building occupancy is planned for fall 2019.
In a related matter, borough council members directed borough manager Roger Ciercierski to deny a request by the school district to reduce building permit fees for the Kindergarten Academy project. Ciercierski said the request from district officials was addressed to him, but he wanted council members’ input “because I didn’t feel comfortable making this decision on my own.”
“The way fees are set up and the way the state collects it is pretty standard,” Ciercierski said.
Borough council president Rodney Whitcomb said he “didn’t want to set a precedent” by accepting the request. “I’m not in favor of lowering the fees. No one in this area lowers fees for anyone,” he said.
Despite nixing the request, Ciercierski said he wants the borough to partner with the school district on other projects, such as drainage work on Broad Street. “There’s plenty of other opportunities for us to work together,” he said.
For building permits, the borough charges $50 against the first $1,000 of project costs, then $10 per each additional $1,000. Ciercierski said this calculates to roughly 1 percent of total project costs, but the district also will shoulder review and inspection fees and other related costs down the road.
The school district has listed a maximum cost of $17,048,904 for the Kindergarten Academy project. Of that, just over $10 million is allotted for new construction. The remainder is expected to go toward renovations, site work, financing and other related costs.
Also on Tuesday, the borough council accepted an agreement with the school district for a construction easement for a stormwater basin in Koser Park. The borough is giving the school district “a small portion” of the land for the district to construct a drainage basin, Rogalski said. Since the stormwater system will benefit the Kindergarten Academy, it is being built at the district’s expense.