Burning Buildings and Bonds
Many will remember that in the beginning of October, there was a commotion during morning drop off. According to fire chief Gus Spedaliere, on “October 4, 2021, the fire alarm was activated at EHS… [and] was received… at 0814 hours.” “Ladder 4 and Squad 15 from Greenville FD and E170 from Hartsdale FD” were sent in response but were delayed by morning traffic; it was early enough in the day that cars were still trickling up White Oak Lane but late enough that some people were returning home, leaving no room for the trucks to maneuver.
The firefighters didn’t manage to reach the school until 8:22, eight minutes after they were first informed. It wasn’t until 8:33 that they considered the situation “under control,” just about twenty minutes after the alarm first sounded. Once they gave the “all clear,” the alarm was silenced, to the disappointment of many students who were hoping it would delay their tests. In the end, there was no serious damage from the fire. “The alarm was caused by burnt food in the kitchen area,” and after everything was extinguished “no hazardous gases were noted.” Still, the fact that fire trucks were delayed in the first place is worrisome on its own.
“The fire department can experience traffic delays at each of the Edgemont school sites in the community. As can be expected, this occurs almost daily at the beginning and end of the school days at each site.”
To anybody knowledgeable about the high school’s infrastructure, this incident was not particularly surprising; as fire commissioner Walter Groden explained, “The fire department can experience traffic delays at each of the Edgemont school sites in the community. As can be expected, this occurs almost daily at the beginning and end of the school days at each site.” Solving the issue of little road access into the schools has been a priority of the district for a number of years.
Another priority has been expanding the high school; given that the district is nearly at capacity, classroom space has been limited. Over the past couple years, the administration has been desperate to find more space. First, the senior lounge was converted into a classroom and a part of the lunchroom was soon to follow. Luckily, however, in May of 2021, the district killed two birds with one stone by passing a bond which would fund solutions to both the issues.
The 54 million dollar bond was divided into two proposals: the first and largest of which, costing around 39 million dollars, will fund the construction of a new building at the high school, along with expansions to Greenville and Seely Place. This new building would technically be an extension of the A building, but in practice, it would be a totally new area, providing extra classrooms and space.
“Although favorable to have additional access points for parents and students to reach the campus, the new access road provides an even more significant advantage by providing emergency vehicles an alternate means by which they can access all buildings on campus and shorter routes to neighboring homes.”
The second proposal is less expensive, but somewhat broader in scope and involves creating an improved cafeteria, a new parking lot, emergency paths for EMS, and a new access road to the rear of the high school. As Assistant Superintendent Brian Paul explains, “Although favorable to have additional access points for parents and students to reach the campus, the new access road provides an even more significant advantage by providing emergency vehicles an alternate means by which they can access all buildings on campus and shorter routes to neighboring homes.” Mr Groden agreed, stating, “As these planned improvements are implemented, the access to the properties should improve.” The additional access road will stretch from Artillery Lane to a new, expanded parking lot where there’s currently only a small space. Among the other items in proposal two is a plan for expanded air conditioning. Although it isn’t being installed everywhere, wherever it is to be installed, it will be a godsend in the brutal June heat.
Unfortunately, these projects will take some time to come to fruition. It has already taken around two years to get to this point, and we are still a couple years away from any construction, at least at the high school. Designs and plans are going to be finished this year and submitted next year. If all goes smoothly, by November of next year, the district will be ready for bids, and sometime in 2023, workers will finally break ground. In the meantime, Mr. Groden recommends being careful about parking and keeping lanes clear during events to allow better access for EMS. Nevertheless, once the bond projects are completed, the high school -- and the district as a whole -- will be far better off and safer than it ever was before.